KUALA LUMPUR - Two of Malaysia’s largest parties - Umno and the Islamist PAS - have agreed to formally register their pact called Muafakat Nasional (MN), a move adding to the intrigue on the future of the ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is not part of the MN.
Umno and PAS, announced in a joint statement on Tuesday (Oct 20) that they had agreed to register MN with the Registrar of Societies. MN was first established as an avenue for informal cooperation between the two Malay-Muslim parties in September 2019.
Bersatu, another Malay-Muslim party, disclosed in August that it was on the verge of joining MN, but a meeting scheduled for Monday (Oct 19) to ratify its entry was postponed indefinitely.
“The leadership of both parties have agreed to register MN officially with the Registrar of Societies (ROS),” said the joint statement by Umno and Pas.
The statement was issued by Tan Sri Annuar Musa, an Umno Supreme Council member who is also Federal Territories minister, and PAS secretary general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan.
The party leaders also said that the MN meeting on Monday was postponed to comply with the partial lockdown that is currently in effect in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya until October 27.
The joint announcement came a week after Umno said that it would be making “fresh demands” on Mr Muhyiddin in return for continued support for backing the PN government.
With 39 MPs, Umno is the biggest component among parties in the PN, which only has a two-seat majority in Parliament - the smallest ever margin for a Malaysian government to date.
Umno’s loyalty to Mr Muhyiddin was thrown into doubt further after the opposition leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in a meeting with the King last week, claimed that he had a majority in Parliament. But Mr Anwar did not provide the monarch with a list of MPs supporting his bid for the premiership amid claims that several Umno MPs were among those willing to switch sides.
The King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, has postponed interviewing all party leaders to verify Mr Anwar’s claims until after the partial lockdowns end.
An Umno Supreme Council meeting, which was scheduled to take place on Tuesday which was supposed to decide on its for the PN government - was postponed. The current movement restrictions was also cited as the reason for the postponement.
Bersatu, PAS and a couple of other parties formally registered PN as a coalition in September, but Umno opted to sit out of formally joining it, reiterating its commitment to the former ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and also its MN pact with PAS.
The brittle relationship between Bersatu-led PN and Umno-led BN was evident during the recent Sabah state election.
Despite winning the poll as a joint coalition, both sides celebrated the victory separately and spent more than 48 hours negotiating over the Chief Minister post, which Umno ultimately ceded to Bersatu.