BALIK PULAU: An Umno minister has lent his support for suggestions that his party and PAS work together to face the coming Permatang Pauh by-election. Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya said Umno was open to working with other political parties. He said Umno not contesting the recent Pengkalan Chepa by-election in Kelantan was also a form of cooperation. “This is just the beginning,” he said in a press conference today when asked about the matter. The Permatang Pauh seat was declared vacant after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim failed to obtain a pardon for his sodomy conviction from the Pardons Board. The Federal Court had earlier this year upheld the conviction of Anwar for sodomising a former aide. He had won the seat in the 2013 general election with a 11,721 majority over Datuk Mazlan Ismail of Barisan Nasional (BN) and independent Abdullah Zawawi Samsudin. Hilmi also expressed confidence on BN's chances of winning the seat long held by the national opposition comprising DAP, PAS and PKR. The Umno Balik Pulau division chairman said the important factor was the quality of the candidate chosen to contest the seat. “If the candidate is good and has no problems then we can win,” he added. Umno has sent three names to Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak for consideration while PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is widely speculated to contest. However, PAS deputy president Mohamd Sabu has nixed the idea of the Islamist party working with Umno to contest the seat. Mat Sabu, as he is better known, said PAS was part of the Pakatan Rakyat pact and “would be together with Pakatan”. “We will help the PKR candidate in Permatang Pauh,” he told theSun in a text message.