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It is now finalised and agreed upon by the members of the Central Working Committee (Jawatankuasa Kerja PAS pusat) as well as Ulama' Consultative Council (Majlis Syura Ulama') that any cooperation to form a government either in the form of a merger or power sharing with UMNO/BN is out of the question for now. Period.
Read the full report by Husna Yusop from the SUN and an objective analysis by Zainon Ahmad

PAS rejects ties with BN or Umno

By Husna Yusop
KUALA LUMPUR(July 31, 2008) : PAS decided today against any cooperation with the Barisan Nasional or Umno to form a government, either at the state or federal level, be it in the form of power-sharing or merger.

Speaking to reporters at the party headquarters after chairing a joint-meeting of the party’s Central Committee and Ulama Syura (Consultative) Council, party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said with this decision, "any offer from Umno to set up a joint-government at all levels does not arise".

He said the party will however continue to have talks or discussions with anyone, including political parties, non-governmental organisations, institutions and individuals in the interest of the country and ummah.

Abdul Hadi also reiterated PAS’ stand to remain in Pakatan Rakyat, a coalition of opposition parties that helms five state governments.

"I would like to reiterate our stand to remain in Pakatan by playing an active and positive role in line with our collective struggle, including our fight to change the government. In this context, we would like to invite Umno MPs to join Pakatan, either (through) PAS or PKR, so that we can support this struggle together."

He said the decisions reached during the five-hour meeting yesterday have always been the party’s stand all this while and were further reinforced during the discussions.

He said the question of "secret meetings" between PAS and Umno leaders does not arise as it is no longer confidential.

"There is nothing confidential now. We have said that we can meet and of course, the meetings would be made known to the party. And all these while too, they (previous PAS-Umno talks) have always been made known to the party," he added.

As to whether the meetings will be called muqabalah (face-to-face meeting) or muzakarah (discussion), he said: "I have used the word pertemuan (meeting) in general, it does not matter what term is used."

Asked when PAS will make its offer to the Umno parliamentarians, he said: "That you have to wait when the time comes."

To a question, Abdul Hadi said the party appreciates the support from non-Muslims, especially during the last general election, and in future, it plans to give a more substantial role for non-Muslim supporters to play within the political realm.

Asked his stand in relation to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy allegation case, he said he had stated before that PAS as an Islamic party wants the issue to be settled through the Islamic Syariah method.

"I refer to Article 121(a)(1) of the Federal Constitution that all cases related to a Muslim must be referred to the Syariah court. If this cannot be done, Umno must make the necessary changes. I don’t want for this issue to be politicised," he added.

Asked whether he supports Anwar, he said: "I defend whoever is being victimised (dizalimi>) including Anwar, and according to the Islamic law, a person who is accused is not guilty (until proven guilty)."

Non starter for PAS-Umno merger

Comment by Zainon Ahmad

THEY should not have bothered. That seemed to be the view of a number of dyed-in-the-wool PAS members on recent talk about the possibility of their party and Umno sharing power or even merging.

They were right and are breathing easy again now that all talk of merger or even power sharing, like many times in the past, is aborted. They agree, of course, that whether muzakarah or muqabalah this is hardly going to be the last word said on the subject.

Some of them say that if their views were sought by their party officials at the early stages of the talk they would tell them straight in the face that merger is a dead horse.

Because it drew a lot of public attention for a couple of months and involved top officials of the party, the talk is likely to be raised at the PAS general assembly beginning Aug 13.

Some people are going to be mauled. And it is to mitigate what may turn out to be an unprecedented ugly muktamar is one of the reason the special Pas central working committee was called yesterday mostly to evaluate the talk that was beginning to focus more on power sharing and merger.

PAS members say they are generally grouped under those who are die-hard or dyed-in-the-wool members, who constitute the majority, those who can work with other parties but not Umno, and those who may tolerate working with Umno over the question of Malay unity.

According to die-hard Pas members their party is gradully gaining greater acceptance among the Malays as reflected in the number of parliamentary seats the party won in 1999 and on March 8 and believe they will win more in the next general election. So why bother?

They believe that Pas, as told to them by their leaders, was cheated in 2004 but they are confident the party will one day rule Malaysia either singly or at the head of a coalition dominated by their party. For them it is better for Umno and Pas to remain separate.

"For the moment there is no real danger of the Malays losing political power," said Pas secretary general Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar who do not see any real need for the two parties to merge or even share power.

Among the argument against the continuation of the talk on power sharing or merger raised at the fiery meeting yesterday was the opposition of the voters, both Malays and non-Malays, who had voted for Pas candidates for the first time .

Among those who tried to discourage the talk from zeroing on on power sharing and even merger was none other than the party spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat. The wily Kelantan Pas icon who is known for his distaste for working with Umno suggested some outrageous terms before the two parties could merge.

One was that the merged party should champion the cause of implementing Hudud punishments and Qisas laws in the country which effectively means the new party should work towards turning Malaysia into a theological Islamic state.

It may have appealed to Pas members but it was a sure way of killing the idea among Umno members. While there were those schmaltz who screamed "Malay unity is good for national unity" there are also many Umno stalwarts who feel that Barisan Nasional is still a good idea.

Some PAS officials admit that it was the declaration by PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that it was possible to topple the BN federal government with the help of crossovers from Sabah and Sarawak that triggered the two parties to woo each other.

For the BN and Umno leaders it is obvious. Should Anwar manage to entice 31 of the 54 BN MPs from the two East Malaysia states to join the loose Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition of 81 Dewan Rakyat members (PKR 31, DAP 28 and PAS 23), it will mark the end of the rule of a coalition which had ruled the country since Merdeka. To stay in power it must deny Anwar the numbers.

Less obvious is PAS reason for wanting to talk to Umno. For the party which wants to remain true to its ideology and long term objective for turning Malaysia into a theological Islamic state, some of its leaders do not relish the thought of being a junior partner with secularists in a national ruling coalition.

They do not want it to be political capital for its enemies, especially Umno --- if it still remain a formidable force should the BN government falls --- in the next general election.

To people like deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa talking with Umno may offer alternatives that may be more acceptable. Thus, he was at the forefront of the Umno-Pas dialogue billed as Malay unity talk.

But it is clear now, even before the muktamar which is about a fortnight away, that the core members of the party are against sharing power or merging with Umno.The two parties can, of course, continue to talk to each other. But for Umno, what is there to talk about?

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