KUALA LUMPUR: After all the hype regarding the birth of a new political party thought to be "the third force" for the 13th general election,Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (Ikatan) will not be contesting but instead focus on uniting Malaysians as a single "Bangsa Malaysia".
Its protem president Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said its emphasis and focus right now is to bring back Malaysians to the days of the country's founding fathers where such unity was the norm rather than the "racial divide" plaguing the nation today.
"Well,of course,there are people who said we should contest but I think it's too soon to contest an election. We are here for the long haul and not just here to seek elections,contest in election or to win positions and such. It's more to ensure we go back to the right path.
"What I see now is that racism and religious--based issues have been played up carelessly by the leaders. If we don't stop the rot and decline now,it will tear the country apart. We must work hard to bring Malaysians back to the path (our forefathers envisioned).
"However,if any of our members wish to contest for the 13th general election,they can do so on another party ticket," said Abdul Kadir.
He denied Ikatan is a third force which may upset the balance between Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and Barisan Nasional (BN),saying it is an issue--based party.
"We are issue--based and at this particular time we have more in common with PR on various issues such as the call for a free and fair election process. While the government said they have accepted the majority of Bersih's recommendations,the question is not about accepting it but when to implement it," he said.
Abdul Kadir did admit he hopes by the 14th general election,Ikatan will be strong enough to contest and be "one of the biggest parties" in the country.
"Within a year's time we hope to have around 500,000 to one million members. And we will also contest the 14th GE.
"Whether we contest as part of BN or PR that remains to be seen as the political landscape could change," he said,adding that in his eyes,the party that most resembles the noble Umno under Tunku Abdul Rahman's leadership currently is PAS.
"The reason I chose not to join PAS,although PAS is the party that is closest to what Umno was under Tunku Abdul Rahman's leadership is the fact that my (non--Muslim) friends cannot join.
Ikatan submitted its application to the Registrar of Societies on Monday and hopes the approval process will be hastened.
Among the party's luminaries who attended the launch was former Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan (deputy president),Datuk Seri Mustapa Kamal Maulut (secretary--general),Ong Hock Siew (deputy president) and Datuk Bujang Ulis (deputy president).