Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz has dismissed talk that his party would entertain cooperation with PAS, saying the two parties would end up cannibalising each other’s support.
Umno and PAS have been dallying even before the 14th general election, but the collapse of Barisan Nasional has made the prospect of the two natural rivals coming together more real.
One Umno leader vying for a vice presidency post has proposed a collaboration of the two parties ostensibly to “save Islam” in the country.
Former tourism and culture minister Nazri did not believe this would come to pass or even advisable.
“I don’t think so, I don’t think we will work together, mainly because both of us are going for the same seats,” Nazri said today.
PAS had positioned itself as a “kingmaker” prior to the 14th general election, but the unexpected results that gave Pakatan Harapan a simple majority left the Islamist party with no takers for its parliamentary support.
The party has continued pushing the idea of “unity” governments in states that either PH or BN control marginally, however, including a bizarre proposal for a Perak state government that would have no Opposition.
Nazri said he personally was not in favour of cooperating with PAS as he did not believe the faith-based politics of the Islamist party would have much of a future given Malaysia’s current trajectory.
“I am definitely not an Islamist. Religion based politics is definitely out for me, I am very much against it.
“As Malaysians, it is in our DNA to be multiracial, so religious politics is not the way, I do not agree with PAS,” he said.
Nazri added that he would rather work with rivals in the Pakatan Harapan coalition before contemplating a tie-up with PAS.
“I would prefer to work with DAP or Keadilan (Parti Keadilan Rakyat), as I am not an Islamist,” he said.
PAS won 18 parliamentary seats while Umno took 54 in the 14th general election.
Both parties flirted openly over the Islamist party’s bid for hudud, including forming a technical committee at the federal level to study the feasibility of implementing the Islamic penal code.
A senior Umno minister had also made it possible for PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to table his motion to enhance Shariah punishments — a diluted version of his original hudud ambitions — in Parliament.
Both parties increasingly appeared to be in synchrony heading into the general election, fuelling current speculation that both may now seek each other out for their political survival.