Sunday, February 28, 2021

In Perak, PAS bent on punishing ‘treacherous’ Umno?

MB's ouster a big no-no for the Islamist party, which is willing to stay out of power.

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PAS’ refusal to join any new coalition in Perak following the ouster of Ahmad Faizal Azumu as menteri besar yesterday is the Islamist party’s way of punishing Umno for going against their cooperation in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliance.

A source in PAS said top party leaders have been increasingly “disappointed” with Umno, with whom they had inked the so-called Muafakat Nasional charter during their time in the opposition last year.

One senior leader told MalaysiaNow that Umno’s effort to oust Faizal, a Bersatu leader, smacked of “ingratitude”.

“After all, Bersatu risked going into the political wilderness and was even prepared to split with its main founder Dr Mahathir Mohamad in its willingness to embrace Umno and put it back into governance after 22 months in the role of the opposition, something it had no experience in at the federal level,” the leader, seen as a dealmaker within PAS circles, told MalaysiaNow in exchange for anonymity.

Yesterday, Faizal lost in a confidence motion brought by an Umno assemblyman in the Perak state assembly, as differences between him and the Malay party reached a peak over the appointments of key administrative officers, including his political secretary.

The confidence motion on Faizal was opposed by 48 assemblymen comprising those from Pakatan Harapan as well as all but one Umno assemblyman.

Faizal only obtained 10 votes, comprising those from fellow reps in Bersatu, PAS and two independents. The sole Umno man who abstained was Aznel Ibrahim, whom Faizal appointed as political secretary.

Earlier today, Sultan Nazrin Shah urged parties in the state to find the best formula to fill the power vacuum.

The move to support Faizal was endorsed by the PAS central leadership, which said it would stay clear of any attempts to seek new alliances to form a government other than within the PN cooperation.

It was speculated that Umno could work with PKR and Amanah to form a new government, a move opposed by Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan who urged PN leaders in Perak to stay united despite the vote against Faizal.

Many Umno leaders are also against working with PKR and Amanah, saying both parties, with only eight state seats, will still be answerable to DAP which has the lion’s share of 16 seats in Perak PH.

“Bersatu risked going into the political wilderness and was even prepared to split with its main founder Dr Mahathir Mohamad.”

Meanwhile, another PAS source said the party was “vehemently opposed to Umno’s treachery”.

“As said by Perak PAS chief Razman Zakaria at the state assembly yesterday, Faizal made sacrifices by leaving PH and invited Umno and PAS to join him to form the state government.

“Now, is Umno going to forget that and join DAP and PH to form the government?”

The source said PAS was not a “lalang” which goes with the political flow.

“PAS prefers to play its usual role in the state assembly without going after state posts,” the source added.

Observers say DAP, which ruled Perak before it collapsed following defections, could make a comeback there even if it is not part of the state government.

Malay politics observer Kamarul Zaman Yusof said Umno could stop this if it was prepared to admit its mistakes and persuade Bersatu and PAS.

“Perak Umno should admit its mistake and apologise to Bersatu and PAS to ensure that the state does not fall to PH,” he told MalaysiaNow.

He said what happened in Perak offered lessons to PN parties.

“The head of government should always consult with the partners,” said the Universiti Utara Malaysia lecturer.

He did not rule out the possibility that Faizal’s ouster could have an impact on PN’s solidarity at the federal level.

“The wound cuts deep,” he said, adding that PN had only recently begun to show some form of unity with the move to form a presidential council.

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