WHILE Pakatan Harapan milks the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal to win over voters, PAS in the other opposition bloc, Gagasan Sejahtera, is defending itself from allegations of working with Umno and Barisan Nasional.
In a two-hour PAS ceramah in Permatang Pauh yesterday, PAS leaders spoke much on being accused of “befriending” Umno by its former allies and detractors.
PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad even used slides to compare photos of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and Prime Minister Najib Razak sitting together at events with those showing DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng with Umno leaders, including Najib and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Several photos featuring Lim, who is Penang chief minister, also showed him holding hands and hugging Umno Supreme Council member and tourism minister Nazri Abdul Aziz. It is widely known that both politicians are in good terms despite being in opposing sides.
“If it were me in the photo, they would say it is confirmed that PAS is with Umno, or I have some project with Umno, ” Idris said.
He also showed an old photo showing PKR and PH de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim having tea with Najib, and cited news reports of DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang saying he was willing to work with BN to save Malaysia.
“But when Hadi proposed a unity government, the malicious parties made accusations against PAS,” he said.
In 2009, Hadi proposed a unity government where all political parties in Malaysia held collective responsibility in facing common challenges and solving problems.
Idris said of all opposition parties in the country, it was PAS which fought Umno the longest.
He also addressed the allegation by whistle-blower site Sarawak Report that PAS received RM90 million from Najib, which he said made the Chinese angry with the Islamist party.
He denied the allegation, citing a Dewan Rakyat reply by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low in March that the claim was vague and not even enough grounds for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate.
“We welcome an investigation by MACC. Our office will always be open for them to come and probe ,” Idris said while also informing the crowd of some 200 people that Hadi was suing Sarawak Report in the United Kingdom for defamation over the allegation.
Penang PAS commissioner Muhammad Fauzi Yusoff, who also spoke at the ceramah in Kubang Semang, said the media had gone to town after state Umno leaders, including Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican attended its Hari Raya open house recently.
Speculation flew, he said, as reporters kept asking if Reezal’s presence meant PAS was joining hands with Umno.
“On what basis are we joining hands? The one in power here is PH. If anything, we should wait for the results of the next general election… see if PH wins or loses, and then count the seats PAS and Umno have won.”
Fauzi said although there was no official announcement, Penang PAS would be contesting more than the six seats it fought in the 2013 polls, now that it no longer had to give up seats to PKR, its former ally.
PAS also tried to set itself apart from PH, as its Penang Youth chief Afnan Hamimi Taib Azamudden said its politics was based on Islam.
“Everything PH is saying (about PAS) is we are with Umno, that we are helping to keep Najib in power. That is their Western politics. To them, it is always about who is in power, which is why they bicker about who will be PH’s prime minister.
“PAS is not like PH or Umno that practises money politics. Our struggle is much larger, as it is about bringing people closer to God and following Islamic values and teachings.
“People think PAS is rigid, close-minded but we are open to dialogues, even with Christian pastors. Those who had met us in interfaith programmes have found that they can be comfortable with PAS.”
Permatang Pauh PAS division chief Omar Hassan told the crowd that PAS wanted to contest in the parliamentary seat held by PKR, as well as the three state seats there.
He said Penang, under the PH government, faced issues such as the loss of Malay villages, namely on the island, to new developments.