Stop hyping up talk of PAS joining govt, says Tiong

The minister says Anwar Ibrahim’s offer to PAS was made before the unity government was formed last November.

(FMT) – A Cabinet member has urged the public and political parties to stop playing up speculation that the government is inviting PAS to join the federal administration.

Tiong King Sing said an offer extended to PAS by Anwar Ibrahim was made before Anwar formed his unity government last November, after the King had expressed his wish for unity among all parties given the inconclusive results of the general election when no party obtained a parliamentary majority.

Tiong, who is tourism, arts and culture minister, said he brought up the matter at the Cabinet meeting on Friday, after being asked several times about the prospect of PAS joining the government.

He said Anwar then told him that Time Magazine had asked him in an interview a few months ago about the possibility of inviting PAS into the unity government, to which he replied that he had been open to the idea from the beginning.

However, Anwar also said PAS must recognise that Malaysia is a multireligious country and every citizen has a place. “So in this regard, about this topic, I don’t think it’s necessary to continue to hype it up,” Tiong said in a video posted online yesterday.

Tiong, who is president of the Sarawak-based Progressive Democratic Party, said he personally disagreed with the idea of PAS joining the government as the government’s non-Muslim supporters have strong opinions against the Islamic party.

“Some of our supporters cannot accept PAS, especially the non-Muslims, because PAS’s behaviour and religious views are too extreme and they fail to recognise that we are a multicultural and multireligious country,” he said.

Tiong, who is Bintulu MP, said the leaders of the current unity government would do their best to respect and preserve the rights of all communities and religions.

Anwar, who is chairman of Pakatan Harapan, forged an alliance of PH, Barisan Nasional, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah, and Warisan after the general election in November, enabling him to form a unity government.

The alliance commands a total of 147 seats in the Dewan Rakyat. The opposition Perikatan Nasional has 74 seats and Muda holds one seat.