Meetings after meetings were held between Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and PAS representatives to forge political cooperation, Bersatu’s strategist Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff says.
But ultimately, the plans were foiled. And this, Rais said, were the result of a group of five within PAS – the group that was “working very hard for Umno”, he said.
He named the five as PAS election director Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar, PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan, PAS lawmakers Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali and Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz and PAS research director Ahmad Zuhdi Marzuki.
“Every time we discuss something, these five will come out at great lengths to discredit what has been signed between (PAS deputy president) Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and Bersatu.
“Their guns will be pointed towards (Bersatu chairperson) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) and this is their strategy. We understand that.
“But remember my message to this five is that they are betraying the people’s trust in them,” Rais told Malaysiakini.
He believes “the vast majority” of the PAS grassroots will not condone cooperation with Umno.
Nik Abduh: Rais just whining
When contacted, Nik Abduh said Rais is just whining and trying to find fault with PAS after talks went awry.
“He should be ready to listen to PAS, instead of only blaming PAS and pitting its leaders.
“If he wants to be Bersatu’s mastermind, he should do his work, instead of whining like a spoiled brat,” Nik Abduh (photo) said.
The other four PAS leaders have yet to respond to Malaysiakini‘s requests for comment.
However, Rais admitted he did not have meetings with all of the five but had met with Nik Abduh and Samsuri.
In the meeting, he said, he asked them the same question he had asked PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang in his meeting with Hadi.
“I asked… how they could work with a party like Umno when they are representing Islam.
“(But) they seemed to portray that they know politics a little bit better than us. They forgot that our party is led by someone who administered the country for 22 years.”
‘Signed agreement to santai-santai’
Rais claimed the five were also badmouthing Bersatu, and yet the party continued to hold talks with PAS because Bersatu “is magnanimous”.
The goodwill was likely due to the warm reception received from the others in the PAS camp, including Tuan Ibrahim and Mustafa Ali, who attended the talks.
Mustafa (photo), a veteran leader who traces his involvement in PAS to the 1970s, was last week dropped as PAS central committee member in a move that shocked political observers.
Rais said he met with PAS at least thrice and “documents were exchanged”, but what appeared to be a formal agreement changed after the representatives returned to the PAS headquarters.
“After going back to the headquarters they come back and say we met for santai-santai (casual talk). But there is no such thing as santai-santai – documents were exchanged.”
Rais said a document dubbed “Muafakat PAS” (PAS cooperation) was handed over by PAS and amended during one of the meetings before it was signed by both parties.
“The joint statement signed by Tuan Ibrahim and (Bersatu deputy president) Mukhriz (Mahathir) released to the media on Feb 1 was released by PAS, not by us.
“And two, three days later, they said we had a casual discussion.
“If we are talking about principles of Islam, we need to be truthful. What kind of acrobatics is this?” he asked.
Nail in coffin of PAS-Bersatu talks
PAS and Bersatu held a closed-door meeting on Feb 1, without the presence of their respective presidents or Mahathir.
Bersatu was represented by Mukhriz, who chaired the meeting while PAS was represented by Tuan Ibrahim and vice-president Idris Ahmad.
In their joint statement, Mukhriz and Tuan Ibrahim said the two parties had agreed to form a joint technical committee to follow up on the outcome of the meeting.
However, Hadi, during the PAS muktamar last month, reiterated that his party will not collaborate with Bersatu, citing the latter’s lack of leadership, among others.Hadi’s remarks also followed Bersatu chairperson Mahathir who had, in a scathing blog posting, said PAS is a divisive force in the Malay and Muslim community.
Bersatu had tried to forge co-operation with PAS to avoid multi-cornered fights in the 14th general election.
The Umno splinter party became Pakatan Harapan’s fourth member on March 14, 2017.