PAS has stepped up its attacks against Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim alleging that the two will return to their former party, Umno. The development comes as the Islamist party appears to have ended any hope of working with PKR and Bersatu.
Besides using the party organ, Harakahdaily, PAS leaders are telling the grassroots at events that it is futile to work with Pakatan Harapan because Dr Mahathir and Anwar will eventually return to Umno.
Dr Mahathir is now Pakatan Harapan chairman and Anwar, its de facto leader. Dr Mahathir and Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin have also repeatedly said they will not return to their former party, Umno, as it is damaged beyond repair.
PAS is also telling its supporters that the new opposition coalition will fall apart soon, a similar stand taken by Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional chairman Najib Razak, who called the coalition “a joke”.
The article reminded its readers that Muhammad, Anwar and Najib were in the same Team Wawasan when Anwar wrested the deputy president’s post from Ghafar Baba in 1993.
“It’s not impossible, given the circumstances, that Anwar will return to Umno to face Dr Mahathir. This would be the best way to cripple PKR which is already divided.
“It’s also not impossible that Najib will be desperate enough to release Anwar from prison to defend his political survival,” he said.
Wan Nordin said Dr Mahathir could also go back to Umno as PH itself seems rudderless with DAP the dominant party in the coalition.
On the ground, PAS central committee member Riduan Mohd Nor is doing the ceramah circuit and saying Dr Mahathir is returning to Umno.
“Pakatan Harapan will fall apart and there is also the possibility that Dr Mahathir will join Umno again,” said Riduan at an event in Terengganu over the weekend.
The supporters were also told not to be disappointed with the Islamist party’s decision to cooperate with smaller parties to form the country’s third political bloc, Gagasan Sejahtera Rakyat, instead of joining PH.
Fallout in its own ranks
PAS’ attacks against the two come at a time when it has to contain a fallout within its own ranks after the Islamist party pulled out of the opposition bloc, Pakatan Rakyat.
A sizable number of PAS grassroots feel the party’s best chances to reach Putrajaya lie with working with the opposition.
Studies, commissioned by PAS, have similarly indicated that the party is on the losing end if it contests the next elections alone.
Without the aid of PKR, DAP and Bersatu, PAS also stands to lose half its seatsin Selangor. If that were to happen, PAS faces the prospect of being out of the Selangor administration as it is neither in PH or BN.
This would mean that after almost 10 years being part of the government in Selangor, the party would lose all its positions in the state administration, local council and even mosque committees.
As such, while PAS’ top leaders have repeatedly declined to join PH, others, such as Selangor PAS election director Roslan Shahir Mohd Shahir, continue to send out mixed signals by saying it is open to working with PKR and Bersatu.
Dr Mahathir has also said the Islamist party will end up aiding BN indirectly by splitting the opposition’s votes if PAS forces three-cornered fights in seats it cannot win.
Dr Mahathir, Mukhriz and Memali
In Terengganu, Riduan also told the PAS grassroots that the party tried to persuade Dr Mahathir to work with them.
“We met his son, Mukhriz, during the early days of Bersatu.
“We asked Mukhriz to persuade his father to go to Memali and say ‘sorry’, but he (Mukhriz) refused,” he said at a talk in Rhu Rendang, the party’s stronghold.
For Riduan, Dr Mahathir’s apology over the Memali tragedy, which occurred in 1985, was one of the preconditions for PAS to cooperate with the former prime minister.
He said this is the reason PAS urged the formation of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to probe into the tragedy which claimed 14 lives, including police officers.
“We want to know if the police officers were killed by parang or M16 bullets,” said Riduan, the Islamist party’s “historian”.
Dr Mahathir and a government White Paper on the Memali incident previously blamed the tragedy on the “Amanat Hadi” espoused by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang in 1981. Hadi has never retracted or defended himself against the allegations.
Meanwhile, PAS Ulama information chief Mohd Asri Mat Daud said Dr Mahathir was the one who stopped Kelantan from implementing hudud.
“Dr Mahathir wrote to Tok Guru Nik Aziz (former Kelantan Menteri besar) warning him not to implement the shariah criminal code approved by the Kelantan assembly,” said Asri who is also the Kelantan menteri besar’s press secretary.
PAS is currently having campaigns ahead of the Fastaqim 2.0 rally ,which will be held at Pantai Tok Jembal, Kuala Nerus, this weekend.