The PAS-Umno conflict and cooperation


PAS does not want to merge with Umno. It does not even want to join Barisan Nasional. It just wants to explore areas where it can cooperate with Umno, which is not confined just to matters related to Islam but also to Budget 2016 and how Malaysia can ride out the economic storm expected next year.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

To analyse the PAS-Umno conflict and cooperation, or love-hate relationship, it is not enough to look merely at developments over the last year or two but one must look at it since 1951, six years before Merdeka or almost 65 years ago.

Umno was formed in 1946 as a Malay nationalist party, and it still is. The main reason for the formation of Umno was to oppose the British Colonial Office’s plan to merge the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States into a Malayan Union. Under the Malayan Union the Rulers would lose most of their powers so the Malays would not accept it.

Due to the opposition to the Malayan Union, two years later in 1948, the British abandoned that plan and replaced it with the Federation of Malaya, called Persekutuan Tanah Melayu in Malay. At that time the issue of Merdeka or independence was not yet the focus of Umno.

The Islamists in Umno wanted Umno to become more Islamic rather than remain a Malay nationalist party (and Umno would probably be called the United Muslims National Organisation instead of the United Malays National Organisation).

People like Onn Jaafar, on the other hand, wanted Umno to become less Malay and to open its doors to non-Malays and for the party to change its name to the United Malayans National Organisation (also Umno).

Umno rejected both — to become more Islamic plus to open its doors to non-Malays. So the Islamists left Umno to set up the Pan-Malayan Islamic Party or PMIP and Onn Jaafar left to form the Independence of Malaya Party or IMP. And Umno remained a Malay nationalist party but went on to form a coalition with MCA and MIC called the Alliance Party (so it did become multi-racial in the end).

In the first election in 1955, two years before Merdeka, the Alliance Party swept 51 of the 52 seats it contested. PMIP won one seat and the other four parties did not win any seats. Out of the 51 seats that the Alliance Party won, Umno won 34, MCA 15 and MIC just two.

Two years after Merdeka, in 1959, the Alliance Party won 74 of the 104 seats it contested (Umno 52, MCA 19 and MIC three), PMIP won 13, Socialist Front eight, PPP four, and the National Party and Malayan Party one each.

Ten years later we saw the ‘historic’ 1969 general election that triggered bloodshed and the formation of Barisan Nasional in 1973. That was when all the opposition parties except DAP decided to join the new coalition that replaced the Alliance Party in the interest of avoiding yet another catastrophe in the 1974 general election. By then PMIP was called PAS.

PAS, however, felt that as a member of Barisan Nasional it could not promote its Islamic agenda, so soon after that it left Barisan Nasional to go back to being an opposition party.

PAS started as an Islamic party (PMIP) because Umno resisted the call of the Islamists in the party to become more Islamic. It joined Barisan Nasional in the interest of national unity and to avoid further racial conflict. It left Barisan Nasional because there was no longer any danger of racial strife and PAS wanted to pursue its Islamic agenda.

PAS has never hidden the fact that its agenda is Islam but it is prepared to temporarily ‘freeze’ its Islamic agenda whenever another agenda such as national unity or political stability demands it.

The late Nik Aziz Nik Mat said that if Umno could compromise and can agree to some form of Islamic agenda then PAS need not even be in existence. PAS can be closed down and all its members can join Umno. Abdul Hadi Awang said that they oppose Umno merely because Umno wants to uphold the doctrine of separation of church and state.

So that is the main issue that divides PAS and Umno. But if Umno can agree to sit down and talk about how to unite the Muslims and how Islam can be given more focus then PAS would have no problems working with Umno.

After all, Zaid Ibrahim went to court to block the implementation of Hudud in Kelantan. However, when Zaid joined PKR, PAS did not file for a divorce from Pakatan Rakyat.

Anwar Ibrahim was once in Umno and was the second-in-command to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and they also opposed Hudud. PAS, also, had no problems working with PKR.

DAP has openly stated its opposition to the Islamic State and Hudud and Karpal Singh even said that PAS can implement Hudud over his dead body. But still PAS had no problems working with DAP.

So why should there be a problem for PAS to work with Umno? If PAS can work with PKR and DAP, that also reject Hudud, why should it be any different with Umno?

PAS does not want to merge with Umno. It does not even want to join Barisan Nasional. It just wants to explore areas where it can cooperate with Umno, which is not confined just to matters related to Islam but also to Budget 2016 and how Malaysia can ride out the economic storm expected next year.

Some leaders in PAS want to just focus whatever cooperation with Umno on matters concerning Islam and Hudud. They want Umno to first accept Hudud before they can sit at the same table. That is a very narrow terms of reference. Malaysia is facing many other more critical problems such as racism, social issues and the economy.

And as the news items below said, any cooperation with Umno should be towards a more mature political environment to overcome the crisis that Malaysia is currently facing.


Dokumen Hijau: Ke arah politik matang dan sejahtera

(Harakah, 19 December 2015) – PAS mengadakan Muzakarah Dokumen Hijau bagi membincangkan berkaitan asas syariat dalam komentar Bajet 2016 dan realiti, masalah dan penyelesaian bajet itu.

Muzakarah itu anjuran bersama Pusat Penyelidikan PAS Pusat, Lajnah Penerangan PAS Pusat dan Lajnah Ekonomi PAS Pusat.

Menurut Ketua Penerangan PAS Pusat, Nasrudin Hassan, muzakarah dengan motto ‘Ke arah politik matang dan sejahtera’ itu dirasmikan oleh Presiden PAS, Datuk Seri Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang yang diadakan di Dewan Sultan Lumu Muzium Alam Shah, hari ini.

Pembentang dan pengulas terdiri daripada Raja Datuk Idris Raja Kamarudin, Zaharudin Mohamad dan Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin.

“Insya Allah, dalam masa terdekat Dokumen Hijau sebagai solusi kepada isu-isu ekonomi negara dari pihak PAS akan dikemukakan kepada awam setelah muzakarah yang dianggotai oleh Ahli Majlis Syura Ulamak PAS, AJK PAS Pusat dan AJK Dewan-Dewan PAS di peringkat pusat mempersetujui Dokumen Hijau ini,” katanya yang juga Ahli Parlimen Temerloh.