PETALING JAYA: This Saturday will see a shift in the country’s political landscape as the two largest Malay-based parties – Umno and PAS – formalise their partnership.
Umno and PAS have not worked together formally since 1977 after PAS was expelled from the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Political analysts say Pakatan Harapan (PH) has a lot to worry about from this development.
Umno and PAS have cooperated in the last few by-elections and the results have proven that they could be a threat to PH.
The two parties won the last three by-elections they had contested in, including the Semenyih polls in March that saw Umno’s Zakaria Hanafi overturning a PH majority of 8,964 in the last general election (GE) with the assistance of PAS.
As Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Assoc Prof Dr Jeniri Amir put it, the signing of the joint charter this weekend “will only spell bad news” for the ruling coalition.
“When two Malay-Muslim parties decide to join and with the majority of voters being Malay-Muslim, PH should be worried.
“More so if Umno and PAS can sustain the current sentiments that many are having against PH, and if PH keeps making blunders,” he told theSun.
Universiti Malaya’s Assoc Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the formalisation of the pact may even see them dethroning PH in the next general election.
“If you look at Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Parti Amanah Negara’s seats won in the last general election, many were won by a slim margin. Most of the seats saw a three-cornered fight with Umno and PAS also contesting.
“If they (Umno-PAS) had worked together then, they could have won. They just have to make sure they don’t squabble over seat allocations later,” he said.
On national unity, the formalisation of the Umno-PAS pact does not look good, with issues centering on race and religion likely to be played up more often, both analysts said.
Malaysians have seen the issues of the proposed ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) and the boycotting of non-Muslim products, among others, causing division among the rakyat.
Umno’s Khairy Jamaluddin said recently that the next few general elections will see more race-based politics and admitted that while he did not support such an approach, it has proven to be a winning formula for Umno and PAS.
Jeniri said racial politics can be expected when the pact pushes to win coming elections by portraying the two parties were on the same page as the Malays.
“For PAS and Umno, the best card for them to play is definitely the racial card.
“They have to portray that their pact is going to fight for the Malay-Muslims,” he said.