PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The stage is set for the inking of a formal political cooperation between Malaysia's two biggest Malay-based parties, as they prepare to hold a massive rally with an open invitation to everyone and an attendance expected to number over 10,000 people.
All leaders and representatives of former ruling party Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) divisions from around the country will converge at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur on Friday (Sept 13) for a two-day meeting called "Himpunan Penyatuan Ummah" (Ummah Unity Gathering).
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his party and PAS would sign a charter and a memorandum of understanding to forge a long-term cooperation between the two parties, which were once nemeses.
"This is a political cooperation and not a political coalition. It will be an inclusive kind of meet where all parties, races and religions will also be invited to be part of the cooperation," he said.
A poster for the gathering with the hashtag #HPU914 from the organisers on social media urged everyone to wear white, adding that it was open to "all citizens, political parties and NGOs".
Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa said the coming together of Umno and PAS in an organised mammoth rally was the first step in fostering unity among the Malay Muslims.
"No political pact yet. We want to promote political awareness and unity (among the Malays) first. And then, we want to promote true and good values among the Muslims and the non-Muslims.
"We will also have positive engagement with all members of Barisan Nasional, Gagasan Sejahtera, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gagasan Bersatu Sabah," said Tan Sri Annuar.
He said they were expecting a crowd of "at least 10,000".
"We are expecting more and we are prepared for all eventualities. We have 1,000 of our own uniformed volunteers - from Umno and PAS volunteer squads - to control the crowd. We are also talking to the police and City Hall," said Mr Annuar.
He said despite the gathering seemingly centred around Umno and PAS, representatives from other communities would also be invited.
"We will also invite Pakatan Harapan representatives to be part of our gathering. We want everyone to know that this is not only about Umno and PAS," he added.
However, opposition Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Wee Ka Siong said as far as he was concerned, his party was not part of the gathering.
"This (gathering) is strictly a cooperation between Umno and PAS," he said.
Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president S. Vigneswaran insisted that although he would probably attend the signing, he would be there only as a witness and not play any role in the deal.
PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said the gathering was to formalise the political cooperation between Umno and PAS and put this down in writing.
"The gathering is a show of strength. The signing of the deal may not be legally binding but it is a show of commitment by party leaders, supported by the grassroots," said Datuk Seri Takiyuddin.
According to those privy to details of the gathering, there was a worry that PWTC would not be big enough to handle the crowd of party supporters and those sympathetic to their cause.
"We have told everyone that only those with passes can enter PWTC but we are expecting the crowd to spill onto the streets. We are working with the authorities to ensure that everything will be peaceful," the source said.
"The 'ceramah perdana' (grand lecture) on Friday night is expected to draw quite a big crowd as we intend to rile up PH with our numbers. We are expecting to see all levels of PWTC filled up. We are also expecting many to stay overnight after the lecture.
"Those from Umno will likely put up in hotels around PWTC and PAS members at various designated places in the city. There will be many from NGOs as well."