With Najib in, Hadi withdraws unity government offer

By Adib Zalkapli (The Malaysian Insider)

MARANG, April 18 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has withdrawn his offer to form a unity government now that the country has a new prime minister, admitting the idea had been strongly opposed within the Islamist party.

The proposal, made last month, was publicly opposed by the party’s spiritual advisor Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who wanted the matter to be referred to the PAS annual general assembly in June.

Hadi said with the change of leadership from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the idea was no longer tenable.

“I made the suggestion to Abdullah because we see him as a leader with the least problems, but I don’t see any such Umno leader now,” Hadi told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

Speaking at his home near here, Hadi said opposition to his idea was the result of a lack of understanding on the concept of a unity government.

“It is because they do not know what a unity government is, perhaps if they understand the form of a unity government they would agree. Because many do not know so I decided to withdraw my proposal until our people can really understand the concept,” he added.

Hadi explained that a unity government must not be confused with a coalition government which was formed after the party joined the Alliance after the 1969 general election, saying that it failed to bring about changes.

“Some PAS members assume that a unity government means rejoining Barisan Nasional, but it actually involves all political parties; there will be no opposition. And every party would maintain its identity, will enjoy the right to disagree,” he explained.

“We are trying to break away from Umno’s tradition. At the same time this unity government must be able to institute reforms including reforming the Election Commission, the judiciary,” added Hadi, citing the reform process carried out in Indonesia in the post-Suharto era.

“Like in Indonesia, the reforms allowed the judiciary to bring Suharto to court. We want to clean up the nation,” he said.

Hadi however dismissed speculation that his proposal was rejected by the party’s central committee, saying that the matter was thoroughly discussed in various dialogue sessions with party leaders.

“Many agreed with me and finally we reached a consensus. Including Khalid Samad, if you read his blog, he agreed with the suggestion,” said the former opposition leader, referring to the Shah Alam MP who was one of the strongest critics of political cooperation with Umno, which some PAS leaders attempted to work on after the general election last year.

“We discussed every aspect of it, Barisan Nasional, coalition government, unity government and also tabling of a vote of no confidence proposed when Abdullah was the Prime Minister was also supported by PKR and DAP,” he said.

But Hadi has not given up on the idea.

“I am confident that one day my idea will be accepted, they will think about my proposal when the time comes,” he said.

He advised party members who wish to debate on his proposal at the party assembly not to display their ignorance.

“I hope if they don’t understand, don’t talk about it. People will think we are stupid; those who want to talk must fully understand the concept,” he said.