Umno-PAS ‘marriage’ set to alienate hardcore grassroots, warn Pakatan leaders

PAS and Umno flags are seen during an ICERD protest in Kampung Gajah, Perak November 17, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib
PAS and Umno flags are seen during an ICERD protest in Kampung Gajah, Perak November 17, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmakers have downplayed the recently announced PAS-Umno alliance, saying it was inevitable for the two parties which have courted each other since the former’s victory in the general election last year.

Parti Amanah Negara deputy president Datuk Salahuddin Ayub also warned that the alliance will only lead to a fracture in his former party PAS, with many grassroots members unable to reconcile the Islamist party getting in bed with its bitter nemesis of decades.

“I’m waiting for them to break apart. Those who truly hold on to the PAS ideology and understand the party’s history and how it was established will not be able to accept [this alliance].

“It is their nature,” the agriculture and agro-based industry minister told Malay Mail.

Salahuddin said this would be more evident with PAS supporters from the east coast states such as Kelantan and Terengganu, where the enmity between the two party’s supporters is fierce.

According to Salahuddin, the collaboration, which was formalised yesterday, has now given voters a clear picture of where the two Malay-Muslim majority parties stand.

“It’s alright. Before this, we faced a bigger challenge,” he said, referring to the 14th general election.

“We had three-cornered fights all over the place. That was harder and we overcame that. The voters now are no longer confused and everything is as clear as the high noon.”

Former Umno MP Mohamed Tawfik Ismail also voiced a similar opinion, pointing to the differing ideologies between the two parties, with Umno focusing more on developing economically advanced and educated Malays, and PAS seeking the establishment of an Islamic state.

He observed there is approximately four generations worth of bad blood splitting communities and families in the east coast among hardcore party supporters, who had branded each other infidels in the past just for their party allegiance.

At the same time, Salahuddin also sarcastically “congratulated” his political rivals over their “marriage” as coined by Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan yesterday.

Mohamad had said that the two parties will not be contesting under the same banner, but will work together in an unconditional political cooperation especially for by-elections in the interest of uniting Muslims and Malays.

“I want to congratulate them on their marriage because now everything is clear. When Amanah was formed, we were accused of many things and some called us hypocrites. But we left PAS because we knew there were secret meetings between Umno and some PAS leaders.

“We knew this in 2008, when I was the party’s vice-president but they denied it. It’s alright, the truth is out now,” said Salahuddin.

Meanwhile, his PKR colleague and Subang MP Wong Chen also remained optimistic about PH’s outlook when it comes to the upcoming Rantau by-election as well as the 15th general election (GE15), adding the coalition has the advantage of being in power for the next four years.

The PH backbencher pointed out that the vast majority of voters are not active members of any political party and are instead economic voters who remain mostly neutral.

“The key to winning any election therefore lies with these economic voters. Ideally, Pakatan must deliver economic results and since we are constrained by finances, then we must at least deliver hope in the form of anti-corruption and political reforms.

“So we need to move up a gear with the promised good governance reforms this year, and then these will subsequently generate economic growth,” he said.

At the same time, he also warned that the Umno-PAS alliance is a shot across the bows of PH, and that they should prepare for bigger electoral challenges in Rantau and GE15.

“There are two areas that will require closer study: What percentage of PAS supporters will actually vote for a BN candidate, and what will happen to the level of Umno support from MCA and MIC members,” he said.

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