Time to forget courting PAS, pundits tell PPBM

Barisan Nasional’s election victories under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad disproved allegations that he did not enjoy Malay support, said a PPBM leader. ― File picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Now that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) is officially part of Pakatan Harapan, it should completely stop thinking about compelling PAS to join the Opposition, political observers have said.

The analysts said PPBM should start thinking of ways to strengthen the federal Opposition pact for the next general election, as PAS is adamant it will not work with former ally DAP and its splinter Parti Amanah Negara.

“PPBM should not waste any more time thinking about PAS. The party has made up its mind,” Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Associate Prof Jeniri Amir told Malay Mail Online, referring to the latter.

Despite that, Jeniri said Pakatan Harapan should not underestimate PAS in its strongholds, and must continuously look to improve the coalition if it is serious about winning bigger than it did in the 2013 elections.

On Monday, PPBM became the official fourth component party to Pakatan Harapan after failing several times to strike a political cooperation with the Islamist party.

Penang-based political and social analyst Ooi Kok Hin said PAS had been given enough time to join Pakatan Harapan, but it is now “too late”.

“PAS’ two main priorities up to GE14 would be to gather support for RUU355 and to eradicate Amanah. 

“Toppling Umno is a distant third,” he said using the Malay abbreviation for the 14th general election and PAS’ private member’s Bill seeking harsher Shariah punishments.

Ooi pointed that Pakatan Harapan, now with its fourth official member, should quickly start seat negotiations and firm up the necessary policies for a common goal.

“I think both PPBM and Amanah should concentrate on building their base and set up as many branches as possible in the constituencies they want to contest.

“At the end of the day, without a clear policy vision and effective grassroots machinery, parties will be trounced at the ballots,” he said.

When making the announcement of PPBM becoming an official Pakatan member, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu jointly said that a new manifesto will be created for the coalition.

Oh Ei Sun, adjunct senior fellow at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, also echoed the other two analysts on PPBM’s next step with PAS.

He explained that PAS is currently perceived as an ally to Umno because it needed federal powers to pass its party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Bill.

“PAS is with Umno nowadays, which can provide PAS with far more resources. They will alienate themselves from Pakatan supporters,” he said.

Last month, PPBM and PAS said they had formed a joint committee tasked with framing an outline for political cooperation between both parties ahead of the 14th general election, to avoid three-cornered fights.

However, PAS vice-president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said last week it will cease its relationship with PPBM as the latter is committed to join Pakatan Harapan, and will no longer offer PPBM space in its events as before.

PPBM chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had then dismissed PAS’ announcement that it will cut ties with his party, saying its doors are always open for cooperation.