KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — PAS has not ruled out the possibility that it could be forced to confront its Muafakat Nasional (MN) ally Umno at the upcoming Johor state election, Islamist party leader Dr Mazri Yahya said today.
Dr Mazri, the second-in-command in Johor PAS, said the party feels “all possibilities are open” at the moment, following a stern statement by Umno’s Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed that the two will not collaborate either at the state polls or the 15th general elections.
Umno and PAS are still technically in the same MN political pact that was formed to consolidate the opposition shortly after the former suffered a shock defeat at the 14th general elections in 2018.
The agreement entails an electoral collaboration that was meant to last until the 15th general election. But relations between them have since soured, ostensibly because of the latter’s refusal to end its alliance with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).
Bersatu is a splinter group Umno now considers an arch-enemy even as both the parties are still working together at the federal and state government level.
Despite Nur Jazlan’s snub, Dr Mazri insisted that PAS will continue to “strengthen” MN. But in the same breath, he suggested PAS would not abandon Perikatan Nasional, a pact it has with Bersatu, the same official position that has caused tension with Umno.
“PAS is consistent in its effort to strengthen MN and defend PN until the 15th general election,” he told Malay Mail in a text reply.
“PAS respects their stance. To PAS, Malay-Muslim unity must be shaped holistically and cannot be limited to just the Umno-PAS framework,” he added.
Nur Jazlan, who is Johor Umno deputy chief, said yesterday there was no need for his party and the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to cooperate with PAS for the still unannounced Johor state election.
He suggested it should be clear to PAS by now that BN will be contesting on its own both at the Johor polls and the 15th general election.
“This means that there won’t be any cooperation between Umno and PAS or the Muafakat Nasional alliance, no matter what PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Mat said,” Nur Jazlan told reporters.
The statement could be taken as a clear indication that Umno intends to muscle its way into PAS territory, and that the party has long forgone any prospect of keeping MN alive after the Islamists were seen siding Bersatu.
PAS currently holds just one of the 56 seats in the state legislative assembly. Umno under Barisan Nasional control 16 seats while PAS and PN have 12 seats between them. PH controls 27, allowing BN to rule with just a single seat majority.
Dr Mazri was asked how PAS would react to Umno’s intention to contest under the BN banner, abandon its alliance with MN and likely squabble for seats that his party would traditionally contest.
“At the moment all possibilities remain open,” he replied.
Observers said it is likely that Umno is confident it could form a state government by scooping Bersatu’s seats and possibly several of PKR-controlled constituencies, but whether or not that would give BN enough to form a simple majority remains unclear.
BN would need 27 seats to form a simple majority.
Pundits believe the Johor elections could be called just after the Chinese Lunar Year celebrations early next month.
Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, the state monarch, had agreed to the dissolution of the state assembly yesterday evening to pave the way for the third state election held since November last year.
Under electoral laws, the Johor polls must be held within 60 days.