PAS president on stage at Umno annual meeting in major sign of warming ties between Malaysia's opposition parties

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi delivering his keynote address at Umno's annual assembly in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 6, 2019.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi delivering his keynote address at Umno's annual assembly in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 6, 2019.PHOTO: BERNAMA
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi gestures as he enters the meeting hall at Umno headquarters, on Dec 6, 2019.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi gestures as he enters the meeting hall at Umno headquarters, on Dec 6, 2019.PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - The presidents of United Malays National Organisation (Umno) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) on Friday (Dec 6) sat on the same stage at Umno's annual assembly, in a major sign of warming ties between the Malay-Muslim parties which had fought bitterly for decades.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, decked in the all-red baju Melayu outfit, the colour of Umno, had walked into the meeting hall at Umno headquarters a few steps ahead of PAS chief Abdul Hadi Awang.

Datuk Seri Hadi donned a white skull cap and light-green robe, the colours of his party.

It was Mr Hadi's first time attending the annual general assembly of Umno. Although he was invited to attend last year, a few months after Umno was ousted from federal power, he had sent his deputy president instead.

Umno and PAS in September formalised its cooperation pact called Muafakat Nasional (national consensus), with the aim of promoting Malay-Muslim issues which the parties felt had been sidelined by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, which won the election in May last year.

Also on stage on Friday with Umno leaders were two party chiefs of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition - Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Wee Ka Siong and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president S. Vigneswaran.

It was the first time representatives of the component parties appeared on stage at an Umno assembly.

Former premier Najib Razak, who is now chairman of the board of advisers of BN - a post specially created for him due to his popularity among a section of Malays - was also on stage.

Long-term Umno MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who had mostly stayed away from the party's major gatherings and its leaders for years, was also seated in the main VVIP table on stage.