Umno, PAS in informal talks to avoid three-corner fights in Melaka

(FMT) – Faced with the prospect of splitting the Malay votes and losing seats to Pakatan Harapan (PH), Umno and PAS are now in unofficial talks over seat distribution in the Melaka state election – although Umno has said it does not want to work with the Islamist party.

A source in the know said they are looking at an informal pact on seat distribution with the two parties not squaring off against each other for Malay seats.

“If PAS and Umno contest against each other, it will split votes and benefit PH.

“We are not keen to have an official pact with PAS as Umno has to go solo under the Barisan Nasional (BN) banner to test the waters before the general election.

“We need to evaluate our weaknesses and strategies ourselves for the coming polls,” he told FMT.

He said top Umno party leaders would decide on the matter soon, but those in Melaka are looking at only working with PAS on seat allocation.

“We want to reach an understanding with PAS not to contest against each other in certain areas,” he said.

The source said Umno does not need PAS to win in Melaka as it has a strong support base in the state. However, it does not want PAS to split the votes.

Recently, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said the party would go solo under the BN banner in the Melaka polls.

However, two days ago Zahid changed his tune, saying any decision by Umno and BN to work with other parties in the Melaka state election will be finalised after both the party and coalition supreme councils discuss the matter.

A decision is expected to be made by next week or before the nomination day on Nov 8.

The source, however, told FMT that it was up to PAS whether it wants to work with Bersatu but Melaka Umno would not work with them.

“We want to finish them off by ensuring they do not win any seats in the state polls,” he said.

A large percentage of Umno members have been at odds with Bersatu since Muhyiddin Yassin occupied the prime minister’s seat.

The political turmoil between the two parties eventually led to Muhyiddin resigning in mid-August. However, there is a group within Umno that believes it can work with Bersatu.