UMNO is ready to wrest Kelantan from PAS in the 14th general election after finding it difficult to forge ties with the Islamist party, sources told The Malaysian Insight.
This decision was made during a Kelantan Umno liaison committee meeting at the “White House” residence of Umno Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in Kuala Lumpur last week.
Prime Minister Najib Razak was also present at the meeting.
“The meeting was held to brief Najib on election preparations in Kelantan.
This was because PAS leaders have continued their attacks on Najib’s administration, despite the state receiving assistance from the federal government, the source said.
“The federal government is helping the state, giving it monetary aid and billions of ringgit worth of projects.
“But, Kelantan PAS continues to ‘hurt’ us. So, how can we be friends with them?
“This is why Umno will not agree to an electoral pact in Kelantan. PAS is our enemy in Kelantan.”
The Pakatan Rakyat opposition bloc crumbled in 2015 after DAP and PAS ended their cooperation over the Islamist party’s insistence that shariah law be implemented in Kelantan.
The current opposition coalition of Pakatan Harapan comprises PKR, DAP, PAS splinter party Amanah and Bersatu, which was formed by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former Umno leaders.
In October, Umno information chief Annuar Musa had said the Malay party was still open to cooperating with PAS, despite being openly snubbed.
He said the final decision on any cooperation with PAS would come from Umno president Najib.
Another source told The Malaysian Insight that Tengku Razaleigh, or Ku Li as he is popularly known, also agreed with Barisan Nasional’s plan to recapture Kelantan.
“Ku Li has agreed to help Kelantan BN for the last time (in its bid) to win back the state.
“PAS captured Kelantan after forging a cooperation with Ku Li in the 1990 election, but this time around, Ku Li will help us wrest the state from PAS.”
The 79-year-old Kelantan prince, who is the country’s longest-serving lawmaker, had challenged then prime minister Dr Mahathir for the Umno presidency in 1987.
After losing the contentious party polls, Ku Li and his supporters, dubbed the “Team B” faction in Umno, left the party to form Semangat 46.
He disbanded Semangat 46 in 1996 and rejoined Dr Mahathir in Umno.
Ku Li had said Umno should carefully study any cooperation with PAS in the 14th general election, as history had shown that the struggles of the two parties were not aligned.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT