KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang will lead a rally today against the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the third consecutive December the top leaders of Umno and PAS will appear together.
However, political analysts said that while Najib and Hadi’s joint appearances symbolise the symbiotic relationship between the Malay-Muslim parties that are otherwise traditional rivals, their alliance may not necessarily extend to electoral cooperation in the 14th general election.
“Najib-Hadi alliance has evolved but Umno would be hardpressed to share seats with PAS. Umno cannot afford to lose any seats,” independent analyst Khoo Kay Peng told Malay Mail.
Umno president Najib and PAS president Hadi appreared together in December last year at a rally in Kuala Lumpur to display solidarity with the Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine state amid a government crackdown against the Muslim minority there.
The year before that, also in December, both Najib and Hadi attended an event organised by alumni of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University here.
Today’s rally against US president Donald Trump’s unprecedented move to shift the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem comes a week after a protest by federal Opposition pact Pakatan Harapan (PH) outside the American embassy here over the same issue.
Pacific Research Centre principal adviser Oh Ei Sun said that through PAS and Umno’s alliance, the former, which currently has just 14 seats in Parliament, is hoping to legitimise its own agenda, while the Malay ruling party is in turn trying to appeal to conservative Malay voters.
“So if you can’t beat PAS in a contest for conservatism and reactionism, you might as well hug your erstwhile competitor, hoping that their label would rub off on you too, and especially when they are more than willing to hug you as well,” Oh told Malay Mail.
He also said while Umno would not give up seats—especially parliamentary ones—to PAS, Umno would welcome PAS as a third party in the GE14 race against PH.
“I actually think that in many other seats, Umno actually welcome PAS participation for it would further split the already weakened Opposition or non-Umno votes, ultimately working toward Umno’s electoral advantage in a first-past-the-post electoral system,” said Oh.
Centre for Policy Initiatives director Lim Teck Ghee said today’s Umno-PAS rally was aimed at capturing the Malay-Muslim vote and to wipe out challenges from newly-formed PH parties Parti Amanah Negara and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
Amanah has already expressed its criticism against the rally and will be snubbing it, although it is sending a representative to join a forum on the issue prior to the rally.
“Two questions arise from this in relation to the election. First is the extent to which an increasingly astute and critical Malay electorate can be persuaded that both parties are honourable and trustworthy in advancing the Malay agenda or simply playing them out again.
“The second is the resistance BN parties will have to any electoral pact involving PAS,” Lim told Malay Mail.