Umno-PAS dream romance heading for the rocks?

The union of Islamic party PAS and Umno two years ago was a political romance that warmed the hearts of many Malays unhappy with the then ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition.

(FMT) – The alliance of the two parties in Muafakat Nasional gave birth to the idea of uniting the Malay community under a Malay-run government.

But the courtship came with much baggage.

Since the 1950s, both parties have been fighting for the attention of the same group of voters, with one claiming to be more Islamic than the other.

The rivalry intensified when Umno successfully wooed three PAS Terengganu state assemblymen to switch sides in 1961, causing PAS to lose control of the state government.

Since then, several MPs from PAS had jumped ship to Umno, and both parties remained wary of one another, said political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia.

However, all was forgiven with the formation of Muafakat Nasional in September 2019, an idea strongly supported by party leaders and grassroots. “It was seen as a fresh start,” he told FMT.

But the relationship became rocky again after PAS started working closely with ruling Perikatan Nasional.

“The current issue is that Umno does not like the fact of PAS joining PN. Umno wants PAS to be with them, as Umno has bad blood with PPBM,” he said.

Kamarul Zaman said if PAS was forced to make the hard choice between Umno and PPBM, it would choose the latter “even though Umno is stronger but it is still seen as an arrogant party and it has leaders facing court charges”.

PAS also expected further infighting to break out in Umno with several Umno MPs, Umno leaders and grassroot members crossing to PN.

Socio-political analyst Awang Azman Pawi said PAS is indebted to PPBM for giving them government positions.”It is difficult to pull out of PN and Umno is seen to be too critical of PPBM,” he said.

For that reason, PAS is comfortable with the ruling party. However, the situation is likely to change once Parliament is dissolved.

“If PAS is no longer tied to any Cabinet and GLC positions as they are now they may be open to work with Umno then.”

However, by then Umno may have moved on and may mentally be ready to go solo during elections. “Without PAS, they can contest more seats and PAS may have lost the chance to tie up with Umno,” said Awang Azman.