KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Voters should select either PAS or Umno to govern Malaysia as Malay political power lies with both parties, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said.
Hadi was responding to a question on what he felt was the impact of new party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (PPBM) impact on Malay’ political power, in light of the formation of another party that would “further split the votes of the Malays”.
“The political power of the Malays is with PAS and Umno. If any parties wish to govern Malaysia, choose PAS or Umno.
“We are always open to any parties that want to be with PAS, the condition is to accept Islam,” he said in a full-page interview published in Malay-language paper Utusan Malaysia’s Sunday edition, Mingguan Malaysia.
PPBM, less than a year old and chaired by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is seen as looking to tap into votes from the Malay community — the majority in the country and the traditional support base for Malay ruling party Umno and Islamist Opposition party PAS.
Hadi said PAS’ central leadership will first listen to member’s views at the party’s 63rd annual meet, or muktamar, later this month on the party’s relationship status with PKR before taking it up for discussion among the leadership.
PAS was once part of the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat pact with DAP and PKR, but has since declared it will not work with DAP or its own offshoot Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) or any other parties that work with the latter two. DAP, PKR, Amanah subsequently formed Pakatan Harapan and had recently accepted PPBM into its folds. It is still unclear what is PAS’ final decision on being allies with PKR and PPBM.
In the Utusan interview, Hadi was also asked about PAS and Umno’s relationship as the government had purportedly given way for his private member’s Bill in Parliament and about the perception that the two political parties have a secret pact.
“PAS’ cooperation with Umno is based on the policy of ‘ta’awun’, cooperation in matters that are good and non-cooperation in evil matters. PAS was with Umno in the issues of RUU355, Rohingya, but PAS opposed Umno in the issues of TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement), GST (Goods and Services Tax) and Act 164 [Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act]. This is PAS’ maturity in politics.
“We are not at war 24 hours, there are times we cooperate for the good of Islam and the people,” he said, adding that PAS wishes to offer a more harmonious form of politics to society and to bring the people out of problems instead of creating new problems for them.
Commenting on his success in tabling RUU355 or his private member’s Bill for law amendments to increase Shariah courts’ sentencing powers, Hadi thanked the government for “giving way”, government staff, lawyers, academics and all Malaysians for their efforts.
“This is a joint effort of all that love religion and the understanding of religion in their lives,” he said.
Addressing claims that his RUU355 tabling would split Muslims, Hadi instead said that Muslims would unite when holding on to the teachings of Islam and would be divided when they leave Islam.
“We see unity of Muslims happening through RUU355. PAS members supported, Umno members supported, Muslim NGOs also supported. We also find that the public who love religion also continued to support,” he said.
Malaysia is a multi-religious country and both non-Muslims and Muslims have objected to Hadi’s bid to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.
He sought to increase the Shariah courts’ sentencing limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine, and 100 lashes from the current maximum sentencing of three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes.
Hadi managed to table his private member’s Bill on April 6, the last day of the Dewan Rakyat’s March-April meeting after the federal government deferred its own parliamentary matters and effectively caused his private member’s Bill to be listed as the first item in the Order Papers.