It is like a game of chess where a couple of pawns could make the table turns. Will the two parties grow out of their undersized influence and come out on top at the endgame or is it a desperate marriage to conceal a begotten problem?
To keep you up to date of the union between Islamic party PAS and Malay-Muslim centric party Umno, FeedMe Malaysia have gathered 10 developments of the story here. First, let’s understand why would the two parties want to join hands:
1. “We want to unite the Muslims and bumiputras…”
Calling the alliance a “marriage” without ruling out that the parties would divorce by the 15th General Election, the wedding ceremony was held at Umno headquarters here in Putra World Trade Centre yesterday (Mar 6) after a three-hour meeting among the leaders of the parties, The Star reported.
“We exchanged rings in Sungai Kandis, got engaged in Seri Setia and then decided we wanted to get married. This is the official ceremony. And now we are sitting on the dais.
“Our agenda is not to create a Malay pact versus the non-Malays. We want to unite the Muslims and bumiputras without sidelining any other race and religion,” said Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
It is worth to note that the PAS-Umno union does not mean the two parties are uniting or forming a coalition.
To work around their differences, a technical committee would be set up with five members from each party, chaired by Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin and PAS vice-president Dr Idris Ahmad.
Also, a PAS-Umno Negotiation Committee would be set up and the two parties will share a same voice as the opposition in the Parliament.
“This main committee will be jointly chaired by me and PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.
“Umno and PAS have agreed that this is a cooperation in which we respect each other and work on finding the meeting point between the two parties for the sake of the unity of Muslims (ummah). There are no conditions imposed on either party.
“This committee is to formalise our cooperation,” Mohamad told a floor of reporters, adding that the committee would work out a framework for future cooperations.
“We agreed that we will continue with the cooperation in all future by-elections. If we are still together by GE15, we will continue (cooperating).”
Sitting beside Mohamad was PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man. None of the parties’ presidents was present.
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced in December to let Mohamad act as Umno president after facing mounting pressure and ongoing corruption trials himself. While PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is surrounded by controversies for paying Sarawak Reporter’s editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown RM1.4 million in their out-of-court settlement.
2. MCA and MIC Want to Leave Barisan Nasional
The PAS-Umno union came two days after MCA and MIC announced their decision to leave Barisan Nasional.
The two component parties, who have been with Barisan Nasional since Malaysia’s independence, made the announcement on Monday (Mar 4) and called for an immediate meeting with BN Supreme Council slated this Friday (Mar 8) to decide the fate of the coalition.
In a joint statement, the parties presidents Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and Tan Sri S A Vigneswaran said they are left with no choice but to leave BN and seek for a new alliance as the foundation of mutual respect in BN has been challenged lately, FMT reported.
Specifically pointing to Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, they said that Umno’s inaction towards Nazri’s recent racist statements in Semenyih by-election ceramah had threatened the ties in the coalition.
“The uncalled for racial remarks by Nazri have further damaged the ties between the three founding parties,” the duo said, adding that Nazri’s appointment as BN secretary-general was illegal and not recognized by the MCA and MIC.
“When leaders from component parties began attacking its own coalition members and when public statements were made undermining the spirit and foundation of BN along racial lines, the BN concept and spirit have been undermined and sieged.”
In the ceramah, Nazri questioned the appointment of non-Muslims as the attorney-general, chief justice and finance minister. He also said these appointees were not able to be sworn in using the Quran.
Despite all that, Umno acting president Mohamad Hasan had expressed that MCA and MIC are still needed in BN coalition.
3. Dr M: PAS joins Umno despite Najib’s alleged crimes?
Taking to his blog last night, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Muhammad stated that Pakatan Harapan is unfazed by the two parties’ union.
Written in 16 pointers, Dr Mahathir questioned that does the union make PAS looked past former Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib Razak’s alleged corruption crimes and is willing to be “bossed” around by Najib.
“Does PAS consider Najib, who is facing charges of graft and abuse of power, innocent?
“Can corruption, abuse of power and crime be considered halal in the name of Malay-Muslim unity?” the PH chairman wrote.
“It is true that Najib has yet to be found guilty by the courts – but will PAS accept Najib as a PAS leader if he is found guilty?”
He contended that the union can be seen as an attempt to “cleanse” Najib from his wrongdoings and bring Najib back to power. He also reiterated that Najib’s followers call Najib a “boss” and asked that if PAS is willing to be a slave to Umno.
“Najib and his followers refer to him as a “boss” that does not need to feel shame. Boss means ‘my lord’.
“Is PAS ready to be subservient to someone who is alleged to have committed theft? Has PAS no shame when it accepted Najib as their ‘boss’?”
Dr Mahathir pointed out that Umno’s and Najib’s names have a negative taint globally and that many Umno MPs have left the party. He advised PAS to take these into consideration before advancing further into the political union.
4. What about PAS’ pledge to back Dr M if there is a vote of no confidence?
FeedMe Malaysia previously covered that PAS would support Dr Mahathir if PH MPs decided to oust him as the Prime Minister via a vote of no-confidence in the upcoming 14th Parliament Session.
PAS signed a pledge that 18 of their MPs will keep Dr Mahathir on top if two parties in the PH coalition chose to betray him.
Dr Mahathir said the PAS-Umno union would be an opportunity to see various issues arise and the “lies” the parties made. He cited the “lies” to PAS’ pledge to support him in an event of a no-confidence motion and their promise not to campaign alongside BN in the recently Semenyih by-election.
“But on nomination day, many PAS leaders were seen together with Barisan leaders. Is this how PAS makes promises?”
5. Hadi swore to never support Umno before GE14
In a report by Sarawak Report, it is revealed that PAS president Hadi Awang signed a witness statement dated on April 4, 2018 that PAS is in opposition to Umno and Najib.
“We are vocal critics of the (then) government’s position in relation to the investigation of the 1MDB issue, and have raised the issued in Parliament on numerous occasions,” the witness statement read, which was filed to the UK High Court.
The report claimed that Hadi seemed to have switched side and had “no problem signing an alliance with the same set of criminal politicians led by Najib himself, even as they face dozens of charges over 1MDB and other thefts.”