PKR, DAP demand PAS explain Umno tryst

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal and Boo Su-Lun, The Malaysian Insider

A recent meeting involving top PAS and Umno leaders has unnerved PKR and DAP, who now want their Pakatan Rakyat (PR) ally to explain itself.

The Malaysian Insider reported on Monday that PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat had attended a private Christmas Eve dinner, hosted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, with Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at Istana Terengganu.

The dinner was seen as another attempt to revive the talks on political co-operation with Umno in the name of Malay/Muslim unity.

“As an MP and part of Pakatan, I feel that they should not have gone if they had not consulted the top leadership in PKR as well as DAP. Why should they (PAS) go? For PKR, frankly speaking, we are clueless about this, and I do not think that the top leaders of the party would even know about it if had not been reported in the press,” said PKR MP S. Manikavasagam.

Manikavasagam told The Malaysian Insider that PAS has to “respect” other coalition members within PR, and that the actions of the Islamist party’s leaders could affect the opposition bloc in light of possible snap polls this year.

“This year is a critical year for Pakatan..We cannot afford to have any back-stabbing or back-biting, we have to be together in this. Some of Pakatan MPs like myself are small fry so we don’t know what’s happening on the top level… But even top leaders did not know about this. PAS needs to respect other members of Pakatan,” said the Kapar MP.

“PAS has to disclose the details of the discussion. Let us know. Are we not equal members? The public, our supporters also want to know… If it was a meeting between top leaders of BN and Pakatan, all three representatives from PKR, DAP and PAS should go,” added Manikavasagam.

Likewise, DAP Socialist Youth chief Anthony Loke called on PAS to clarify the “Malay unity talks”.

“A statement to clear the air is important by the PAS leadership to avoid any confusion,” said Loke.

“Let PAS make an official statement to reiterate their position and commitment to Pakatan Rakyat,” he added.

Nik Aziz said on Tuesday he would not reveal details of the meeting with Najib, which he confirmed was also attended by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

But Loke was confident that PAS would remain loyal to PR.

“A lot of main leaders in PAS are known to be strong supporters of Pakatan… such as Mat Sabu, Nik Aziz, (Datuk) Husam (Musa) and Salahuddin Ayub. Last night (Tuesday night) at a ceramah, Mat Sabu reiterated openly that he will ensure PAS will commit itself to Pakatan Rakyat,” he added, using PAS central committee member Mohamad Sabu’s nickname.

PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang played down the meeting between PAS and Umno, saying that it was a “normal occurrence.”

“I don’t think that it is a big deal. As the opposition, if someone invites us, why can’t we meet them? I think the question that needs to be asked is, why is Najib trying to meet up with PAS?” Chua told The Malaysian Insider.

The Batu MP claimed that it was normal practice for PR leaders to meet Barisan Nasional (BN) counterparts “in secret” to discuss matters.

“There are people in PR who meet Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein quietly over the Suara Keadilan issue… I don’t think this meeting is any indication that PAS wants to dump Pakatan Rakyat,” said Chua.

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua echoed the view and expressed confidence PAS would stick with the opposition pact.

“We believe PAS will remain in Pakatan Rakyat because they know Umno is only approaching them because Umno is weak. It was reported as unity talks. It was not reported that PAS was interested in it,” Pua told The Malaysian Insider.

He also claimed Umno’s invitation to PAS showed the ruling party’s insincerity in practising the 1 Malaysia concept.

“This clearly shows that Umno is not sincere with its 1 Malaysia slogan or goal for their focus appears to be only on Malay-Muslim unity, and not about Malaysian unity,” said Pua.

DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang refused to comment until PAS released an official statement detailing what had transpired during the talks.

“Before I comment, we will wait for a report from PAS on what actually happened first,” said Lim.