Ties between Zahid and Hadi ‘cold’, say party sources

(FMT) – Ties between Umno and PAS presidents Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Abdul Hadi Awang are “cold” according to party sources, while an analyst says the parties’ Muafakat Nasional pact is in danger of ending.

An Umno source said the leaders of the country’s two biggest Malay parties had not met for a long time and did not plan on doing so anytime soon.

A source in PAS also confirmed the two presidents have not met in a while despite MN being said to be at the end of its “life” due to Umno’s objection to Bersatu joining the political pact.

“They haven’t met in a very long time. I can’t even remember when they last met,” said the source.

Meanwhile, another source said both leaders had the chance to meet throughout the ongoing Dewan Rakyat sitting to resolve issues involving MN, but did not do so.

“In Parliament, they did meet when they bumped into each other, but that was that. They didn’t sit down to discuss the direction of their respective parties,” he said.

The ties between both parties have come under scrutiny of late, particularly after PAS decided to contest under Perikatan Nasional in the Melaka polls. Hadi had also accused Umno of breaching the MN charter by refusing to accept Bersatu into the fold.

Led by Umno, Barisan Nasional stormed to a convincing victory in Melaka, winning 21 of the 28 state seats up for grabs. PAS lost in all eight seats it had contested.

While certain PAS leaders claim that Hadi had not rejected MN as a whole, political analyst Azmi Hassan also felt that MN’s time was running out, with the two parties continuing to disagree over Bersatu.

While expecting Hadi to continue rejecting MN if the issue over Bersatu was not resolved, Azmi told FMT that the cooperation between Umno and PAS was salvageable if the Islamist party’s grassroots pushed to work with the BN party.

“The pressure has to come from the PAS grassroots because they are loyal to the party but have a different thinking compared with the leadership when it comes to this.”

But Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Kartini Aboo Talib said Umno needed to keep an open heart by receiving Bersatu into MN, to avoid splitting the Malay vote by competing with PN.

She said Umno and BN could not use their two-thirds majority win in Melaka as a possible indicator of a victory in the next general election (GE15),as PAS was still strong in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and in parts of Perak.

Meanwhile, Bersatu too had former Umno and PKR members with their own strong network and support base among the Malay voters, she said.