Why PAS dumps UMNO in favour of Bersatu in Melaka polls

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PAS can easily point fingers at the Perikatan banner if it loses, without any serious damage to the Islamist party’s logo.

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After weeks of persuasion and ultimatum, the three major parties in the current Malay-centric government – UMNO, PAS and Bersatu – have failed to reach a consensus to work together in the coming Melaka state election. As expected, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) was adamant in rejecting any cooperation with rival Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu/PPBM).

While UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has repetitively declared that his party will not work with Bersatu, let alone share the 28 seats in the state legislative, his deputy Mohamad Hasan has given the final ultimatum to Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) – the Islamist party must make up its mind. It has to choose between UMNO and Bersatu, but not both like a greedy and cheap prostitute.

Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, now without power after he was forced to resign in August in a plot cooked by an UMNO rebel faction led by Zahid and former Prime Minister Najib Razak, has advised PAS to “think carefully” who to support. It was a reminder of how UMNO-led Barisan Nasional coalition invited PAS to join it in 1974, only to play and dump it in 1977.

Finally, on Monday (Nov 1), PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang announced that the Islamist party would contest under the banner of Perikatan Nasional, a coalition which was formed by Muhyiddin in order to become prime minister – after he betrayed the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government in the 2018 General Election. Effectively, PAS has ditched UMNO in favour of Bersatu.

At one point, PAS leaders arrogantly said they were spoilt for choice. Both UMNO and Bersatu were courting the radical and extreme Islamist party. The impression given was that UMNO was not entirely confident of winning the Melaka state election without PAS, and at the same time Bersatu has zero chance without PAS. Hence, PAS wanted to take advantage of the situation.

UMNO was willing to allow Bersatu and PAS contest only four state seats in Melaka. After all, PAS was totally wiped out while Bersatu won only two seats during the 2018 General Election. Even then, Bersatu won primarily because of support from allies People’s Justice Party (PKR) and Democratic Action Party (DAP), which the ungrateful and treacherous Muhyiddin betrayed in 2020.

However, the greedy PAS and Bersatu wanted more seats as part of its condition to prevent three-cornered contests. In the latest formula, they said UMNO should contest in 14 seats, leaving PAS to contest in 6 seats and Bersatu to take the remaining 8 seats. However, because all of them are competing for the same Malay vote bank, UMNO would have to sacrifice some Malay-majority seats.

In 2018, UMNO won 13 seats in three-cornered contests against Pakatan Harapan and Gagasan Sejahtera, a coalition led by PAS. With a narrow win of 15 seats, Pakatan managed to form the Melaka state government for the first time in history. But a series of defections following the collapse of the Pakatan government at federal level saw the loss of Melaka (Malacca).

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Both Zahid Hamidi and Najib Razak were confident Barisan could grab Melaka this round. Even if they can’t, exactly why should UMNO surrender so many Malay-majority seats to a loser like PAS, let alone Bersatu, when it had won up to 13 seats previously? Assuming DAP would retain its eight seats, there are actually 20 seats to be shared among UMNO, PAS, and Bersatu.

In reality, PAS has nothing to lose because the snake oil salesman has never succeeded in selling its fake Islamic propaganda to the people of Melaka. That explains why PAS is willing to sacrifice its own logo – the second time since it was formed in August 1951 and registered as a political party in May 1955, to contest in an election without using its own iconic logo.

By refusing to play ball with UMNO, PAS is leading the Perikatan Nasional to test its strength and influence. Based on how PAS contested 24 out of 28 state seats in Melaka and was annihilated in 2018, it would most likely suffer the same fate again. The plan, however, is not to win, but to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, to make sure UMNO does not win.

If UMNO fails to win Melaka on November 20, then PAS can justify that UMNO-PAS-Bersatu must work together in the 15th nationwide election. Melaka is just the testing ground to prove to UMNO that it cannot go solo. The message being sent is UMNO cannot have PAS without also roping in Bersatu. If UMNO wants PAS, it must also accept Bersatu – part of the value meal deal.

PAS is forcing UMNO to accept Bersatu because only with such a configuration, UMNO’s dominance can be neutralized, or at least reduced. UMNO and PAS have strong machinery and grassroots. By forcing UMNO to distribute or sacrifice its seats for Bersatu, PAS hopes to create a “Triangle of Power”, taking a page from the Chinese ancient Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

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Clearly, Hadi and Muhyiddin were plotting and scheming to split the Malay votes in Melaka. Muhyiddin has even announced that his Perikatan Nasional coalition will contest all 28 seats in the state, if UMNO refuses to share its cake with Bersatu. Hadi’s decision to use Perikatan logo confirms that both PAS and Bersatu are willing to sabotage UMNO, even if it means Opposition Pakatan could win.

Yes, if Barisan Nasional fails to win, it’s not necessary because Pakatan Harapan is stronger, but because of internal sabotage. Not only PAS has openly sabotaged UMNO, supposedly its ally of Muafakat Nasional, a national cooperation between both parties under the pretext of Malay unity, but it appears even Prime Minister Ismail Sabri isn’t interested to see his own party UMNO wins.

Seen as a bigger cheerleader of enemy Muhyiddin than his own party president, lame-duck PM Ismail, who happens to be UMNO vice-president, has distanced himself from the political crisis in Melaka, saying it is a party matter for UMNO president Zahid Hamidi to solve. This is perhaps the first time a prime minister does not care about winning a state election.

Turtle egg Ismail understood very well that if UMNO wins big in Melaka, Zahid will emerge a hero among the party grassroots. It would be more difficult for the PM to challenge Zahid for the party presidency. Like it or not, Ismail Sabri along with power-hungry Muhyiddin Yassin and Taliban Hadi Awang have a common enemy – UMNO president Zahid Hamidi.

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It’s strange to see a convicted crook – Najib Razak – and UMNO deputy president “Tok Mat” Mohamad Hasan leading UMNO in the Malacca state election campaign. Even Zahid had run away to Germany for some dubious medical reasons – suggesting that the UMNO president wasn’t confident of winning, hence creating an excuse not to be held responsible in the event of a failure.

More importantly, PAS can easily point fingers at the Perikatan banner if it loses, without any serious damage to the Islamist party’s logo. And when the 15th General Election arrives, PAS can execute its exit strategy – ditching Bersatu. It would be hard for Bersatu to blame PAS after all the Islamist party had done in Melaka to support Muhyiddin’s weak party and toxic coalition.

Hilariously, despite UMNO and PAS stabbing each other repetitively, both parties still refused to end their relationship. In a bigger picture, the corrupt UMNO and extremist PAS need each other for the nationwide election. With one foot in Perikatan Nasional and another foot in Muafakat Nasional, the useless power-crazy PAS wants the best of both worlds.

However, depending on UMNO’s result in the Melaka state election, PAS’ bargaining power will be greatly reduced if it decides to dump Bersatu and embrace UMNO after a humiliating defeat there. Worse, if Barisan Nasional wins big, it would embolden UMNO to go solo in an all-out war against PAS in states like Kedah and Terengganu, where PAS currently rules. – Finance Twitter