Monday, October 13, 2008

Khairy: More discussion needed on single BN entity

KUALA LUMPUR: More discussions are needed before any decision is made on whether Barisan Nasional component parties should be merged into a single entity.

Commenting on the proposal by outgoing Gerakan Youth chief Datuk Mah Siew Keong on the matter, deputy Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said there had been many suggestions on how to strengthen the coalition and they needed to be carefully considered.

"There are many suggestions. One of them is to open up the parties to all races. Another suggestion is to unite as a single party and to allow direct membership to the BN.

"The intention is very good, so we need to sit down at the same table and discuss it so that come February, at the BN convention, we can put forward a more concrete proposal," he said.

Khairy said what was important was that the suggestions were made in the interest of strengthening the BN and the relations between the component parties.
He said the mechanism as to how to achieve this needed to be discussed further.

"We've said before that if the need is to project a more multi-ethnic identity, we can start with our component parties such as Gerakan and PPP (People's Progressive Party), and if they can lead by example, then it will definitely lend some weight to efforts to strengthen the coalition."

Khairy said that Umno was open enough to discuss all the suggestions and would not sideline any proposal.

"Perhaps Umno may feel that the idea of a single party is premature, that we may still need Umno, MCA and MIC. Maybe we should look at strengthening the centre, which is BN, and look at how to move as a party not only during elections but at all other times."

Khairy said that it was important for all involved to have an open mind when discussing the future of BN, in order to portray to the rakyat that they were serious about embracing the changes that had happened in the last six months.

On Gerakan Wanita chief Datuk Tan Lian Hoe's comment that the party was looked down in the BN, Khairy said it was not an accurate assessment.

"Respect is really the underlying principle in the BN. The feeling that a party is looked down in the coalition is something that we have to deal with, but to me, it's an unfair assessment.

"Nonetheless, that is the perception and it's something we must address," he said.

Meanwhile, PPP Youth chief Senator T. Murugiah said it was not time yet for the BN to become a single entity.

"We need to have a lot of talk and negotiations. We've been doing this for the last 50 years, so the formula cannot be changed all of a sudden."

Khairy, however, said it was a good idea to open up racial-based parties like Umno and MCA to other races.

"In Sarawak, the Christian Kadazans are members of Umno, so the proposal is nothing out of the ordinary.

"This will be a good start, especially when we regard ourselves as Malaysians. But again, it needs to be accepted by all."

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