Umno wants 'unity govt' with PAS in four states, but Islamist party says 'too early' for this

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hassan (left) with Parti Islam SeMalaysia deputy president before their meeting at the Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on March 5, 2019.
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hassan (left) with Parti Islam SeMalaysia deputy president before their meeting at the Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on March 5, 2019.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Umno's acting president Mohamad Hassan has offered a plan for "unity government" involving its new political ally Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) in four Malaysian states.

But a senior leader of the Islamist party said it wass still early days for the two former longtime political enemies to go beyond working together in by-elections.

Datuk Seri Mohamad was quoted as saying by Utusan Malaysia newspaper on Saturday (March 9) that as Umno controls the Pahang and Perlis state assemblies, and PAS runs Kelantan and Terengganu, they should combine their lawmakers to jointly run these states.

He said a working committee has been formed by Umno to coordinate this plan, together with a committee yet to be formed by PAS.

A so-called unity government would mean that PAS lawmakers would be appointed into the state cabinets of Pahang and Perlis, while PAS would bring in Umno lawmakers into its administration in Kelantan and Terengganu.

His suggestion came just a week after Umno and PAS, which were bitter enemies for decades, agreed to a formal pact to work together after achieving by-election victories in January and on March 2, respectively, in Cameron Highlands (Pahang) and Semenyih (Selangor).

The combined strength of the two biggest Malay Muslim opposition parties has rattled the ruling Pakatan Harapan government, as just over half of the 222 Parliament wards are Malay majority seats.

 
 

But on Sunday, a PAS vice-president Iskandar Samad told reporters that it was "too early" for the two parties to take such a big step forward by forming allied governments in the states.

"We have just cooperated at the level of by-elections. We haven't discussed anything further." he said, after attending an event in Kuala Lumpur.

"This is too early. It is still very far ahead. We have not discussed it," he said, as quoted by Malaysiakini news site.