Saturday, July 24, 2021

PAS man in last-ditch plea for ‘unity’ as Umno leaders gather

PAS Central Committee member Awang Hashim also warns Umno against working with PKR, saying this would undermine efforts towards Malay unity.

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A PAS leader has made a last-ditch appeal to Umno as top leaders and delegates of the Malay party gather tomorrow to decide whether it should work with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu at the next general election.

Awang Hashim, a member of the PAS Central Committee, said the Islamist party which has close ties with both Umno and Bersatu would go to great lengths to ensure that the warring Malay parties mend their ties in time for the next polls.

Awang said he is optimistic of a solution that will satisfy both parties, saying this lies in them putting the people’s interest ahead of their own.

“If Umno is willing to work with Perikatan Nasional (PN), PAS will do anything for the sake of Muslim unity,” the deputy human resources minister told MalaysiaNow.

PAS and Bersatu are component parties of PN, the coalition formed in the wake of the collapse of Pakatan Harapan (PH) last year.

Awang Hashim

Umno meanwhile decided to stay out of the coalition although its 30-odd MPs form the ruling bloc in Parliament.

Despite their party’s support, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his predecessor Najib Razak have been at the forefront of attacks against the PN government.

At the heart of their grievances is that Muhyiddin, who formed the splinter party Bersatu after his fallout with Najib over the 1MDB scandal in 2015, has sidelined Umno in filling key government posts.

Zahid, Najib and a section of veteran Umno leaders aligned with them have urged PAS to ditch PN, reminding it of the Muafakat Nasional charter it signed with Umno in 2019 when the two parties were in the opposition.

Awang, the MP for Pendang, said PAS has always prioritised Muslim unity in its political decisions, adding that it is not after positions.

He warned Umno that any move to work with PKR and its leader Anwar Ibrahim would undermine efforts towards Malay unity.

He said the experience of Malay leaders in the previous government including Dr Mahathir Mohamad showed that any move to work with parties such as PKR and DAP would end in failure.

He said even if Umno enjoys strong Malay support, it would not be able to ward off DAP.

“This was proven when Mahathir led PH for 22 months, but failed to rein in DAP, so much so that many things were done secretly without consultation with him as the prime minister at the time,” said Awang.

He added that PAS would keep looking for ways to bring Umno and Bersatu to the negotiation table, even if the coming general assembly decides that Umno will cut ties with PN.

He also reminded Umno that it would be taking a big political risk if it thinks it still enjoys the support of Malaysians.

He said Umno had been in a state of decline since the end of the Mahathir era in 2003, whether under Najib or his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He said the party had also lost its two-thirds majority in 2008, while support further thinned in 2013 before its leaders were dealt their shocking defeat in the 2018 election.

Any hopes that Umno could rise again under Najib have been dashed, he added.

“We thought it would improve but Umno has only been going downhill. Its graph is on a decline.”

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