New alliance could see PAS eclipse Umno

Zainal Epi
Umno, Barisan Nasional and PAS flags are seen in Pekan Kuala Sawah, Rantau April 10, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

COMMENTARY, Sept 10 ― On Saturday, the two biggest Malay parties in the country will come together and form an alliance that could shift the political landscape for Malay-Muslims in Malaysia.

Leaders of PAS and Umno will sign a historic charter that spells out the roles of each party based on common platforms that will be the basis of their political co-operation.

For Umno, the cooperation is the best platform to stay afloat amid the many uncertainties it is facing, which may include de-registration given that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is on a membership drive before its annual general assembly next year.

And PAS is always the lifeline for any party that is declining politically as the Islamist party is open to cooperation to “educate the masses” on Islam, which has been its mission all along.

It had worked with DAP as well as PKR but it always maintained its ideology, which ended with the party leaving Pakatan Rakyat.

In this new co-peration, which is not called a pact because it is only two parties, the leaders, members and supporters of each are Malays and Muslims and their causes are the same.

Both parties are also in the Opposition.

Looking at the positions of both parties and the manner they came into an agreement, PAS is likely the dominant party in the co-operation given its strong unwavering support from the Malay grassroots.

Umno, despite having a similar position, is considered volatile as the party is still being run by warlords with whom the grassroots are getting fed-up, particularly now when funds are not available below the divisional level.

Despite Umno’s setback, PAS is willing to work together in the name of Islamic solidarity to uplift the economic standings of the Malays and Muslims, which they claim the Pakatan Harapan government was neglecting.

And given that Umno was the one who sought PAS’ hand, it can be considered that PAS’ influence will be more significant in the cooperation, although Umno is expected to play the pivotal role of planning and execution.

The cooperation will see a drastic change in the country’s political landscape that may worry PAS as the latter tries to strengthen its Malay support, which is the weak link between the government and the masses.

Detractors accuse PH of implementing policies that sideline the Malays, which widens the gap between the Malay masses and the government. The situation is a fertile ground for both Umno and PAS to plant their unity seeds among Malay masses.

It was not an overnight plan but a plan spoken and talked about since before the May 2018 general election.

The architect of the plan is Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who, together with PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, saw the need to strengthen Malay unity amid Barisan Nasional’s (BN) position at that time.

However, the talks stalled as the general election came and PAS went alone.

With the agreement, the next general election will see Malays unite against PH, with new voters considered the kingmakers.

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