Saturday, January 23, 2021

In snub to charter with Umno, PAS tells parties to rally behind PN

The Islamist party calls for uninterrupted support to enable the government to operate effectively.

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PAS today renewed its support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government led by Muhyiddin Yassin, in a sign that the Islamist party is snubbing Umno with whom it inked a historic “unity charter” called Muafakat Nasional last year.

This comes amid conflicting claims and reports that the prime minister is fast losing support, with a faction in Umno wanting to quit the federal government in the hope of forcing a general election.

“PAS urges political parties who have been entrusted to form His Majesty’s government, currently led by Muhyiddin Yassin as the prime minister of Malaysia, to give their solid support without disruption, to enable the government to operate effectively,” said a statement by PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan.

This comes after the Umno leadership on Tuesday threatened to quit Muhyiddin’s seven-month-old coalition government, and urged PAS to consider registering Muafakat Nasional as a political party.

The signing of Muafakat Nasional ended decades of rivalry by the two largest Malay parties after they were relegated to the opposition following the 2018 election.

A group of Umno leaders led by party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his predecessor Najib Razak have expressed unhappiness in recent months over what they perceive as a sidelining of the party for key government posts.

Najib recently said that Umno had been giving up key posts for Bersatu, the breakaway party formed by Muhyiddin after he was sacked by Najib as deputy prime minister in 2016.

Some observers said that Najib and Zahid, who between them are facing dozens of corruption charges, have been disappointed with Muhyiddin, after their former Cabinet colleague was unable to help in their legal process.

In July, Najib was convicted of all charges related to some RM42 million in his private accounts from a 1MDB-linked entity.

Yesterday, Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, a keen observer of Malay politics, told MalaysiaNow that PAS was unperturbed by Umno’s threats to quit the coalition government.

He said the Islamist party appeared comfortable working with Muhyiddin, under whom PAS leaders for the first time in more than four decades were occupying federal Cabinet posts.

“Umno and PN need PAS,” said Shamsul, who is attached to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies.

He said with 18 MPs, PAS could become the “kingmaker” by favouring either Umno or Bersatu in the event of a general election.

In its statement today, PAS said the political parties in the current government should act “responsibly and collectively by prioritising and focusing on the people’s welfare”.

The party also expressed its gratitude to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, describing him as a monarch who had been able to solve political stalemates with wisdom.

Earlier this week, the palace issued a statement advising Anwar Ibrahim to follow the legal process, after the PKR leader failed to give evidence of his claim that he has the majority support of MPs to topple Muhyiddin’s government.

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