PAS and Umno are now ‘brothers in arms’

Zainal Epi
Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan is greeted by PAS leaders during the 65th PAS Muktamar in Kuantan June 21, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

COMMENTARY, June 24 — PAS’ 65th annual general assembly or muktamar which ended yesterday endorsed the political cooperation between the party and Umno, creating a new political equation in the country’s political landscape that may threaten the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in the next general election.

This cooperation is expected to affect the Malay-based parties in PH.

It’s not that this alliance will introduce a new political philosophy that will attract new support.

Instead, they just might be able to galvanise the disenchantment of the Malays towards the government over various issues including unkept election promises.

The perception that the multiracial Chinese-based party DAP dictates or steers the government towards implementing policies that “sideline” Malay interests, Islam and the institution of Rulers makes the Umno-PAS alliance even more desirable.

In his opening speech, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang claimed ordinary Malaysians were fed up with PH’s alleged economic and political misdirection a year after winning the general election.

“We are witnessing a confusion of political and economic direction under the Pakatan Harapan administration, which until now has failed to give ideas and nationalistic purpose based on Islamic references,” he added.

The muktamar was a clear endorsement by the party grassroots of the Islamist party’s leaders to continue negotiating with Umno so that in the next general election, the two parties — PAS and Barisan Nasional (BN) led by Umno with MCA and MIC included — going head-on with PH in an environment where some 60 per cent voters are Malays.

The cooperation will hopefully make Parti Amanah Negara (a splinter of PAS) redundant, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) lose much of their appeal to the Malays and Muslims.

Time seems not to be on PH’s side as PKR and Bersatu are facing internal problems that may affect the parties’ grassroots support in the rural areas.

Unless Dr Mahathir acts fast to stop the erosion of trust and credibility towards PH, the Umno-PAS cooperation will grow at a very fast rate and by the time the general election is called, PH may be looking at a stronger than expected opponent.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak and 1MDB may not even be an issue in the next general election if Dr Mahathir does not contain the erosion of trust and credibility now.

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