Amanah leader doubts PAS-Umno’s race, religion appeal will resonate in Malaysia

R. Loheswar
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks during the launch of the first World Patient Safety Day in Putrajaya September 17, 2019. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 17 — PAS and Umno’s ethnoreligious focus on Malay-Muslims is unlikely to gain traction in Malaysia that has grown more progressive, Amanah’s Datuk Seri Dzulkelfy Ahmad claimed today.

Commenting on the alliance between the two largest Malay-Muslim parties that was formalised on Saturday, he said it was PAS and Umno’s prerogative to choose their platform for survival.

“But to form a political coalition that is based on race and religion that is mono-ethnic, mono-religious, is something that New Malaysia and a mixed demography like us may struggle to familiarise with,” said Dzulkelfy when met at Putrajaya during the 1st World Patient Safety Day.

“If they then decide to take to more right-wing extremism, which I'm not saying they will, it will be difficult for Malaysia Baharu to accept this type of political construct.”

Dzulkefly, who is the health minister, also questioned what the two new allies have to offer the country beyond their intention to “unify” the Malay-Muslims, contrasting this to the nation building that the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) was working towards.

Despite his misgivings, Dzulkefly still said it was vital for the country to have a strong Opposition to keep the government in check.

On Saturday, PAS and Umno signed a joint charter for their political cooperation that contained a “national agenda” accommodating the other races but was primarily concerned about Malay-Muslim interests.

The collaboration was formed with the express purpose of defeating PH in the next general election.

The two Opposition parties are working to build support among Malay-Muslims whose majority support did not end up with PH during last year’s general election.

Dzulkely warned the two parties today to be responsible in their pursuit of Malay-Muslim support.

“Don't drag the nation down this alley of racial and religious bigotry,” he said.

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