KOTA BARU, June 9 — Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat dismissed today any possibility of unity government talks with Umno, amid speculation that some leaders in PAS and the Barisan Nasional (BN) lynchpin are eager to engage in the name of Malay unity.
The PAS spiritual advisor denied that there were still plans within PAS to reach out to Umno to discuss plans on forming a unity government based on “Malay and Islamic” interests.
“Absolutely not. There is no way that PAS would even consider unity talks with Umno,” said Nik Aziz.
In an exclusive interview with The Malaysian Insider, the Kelantan Mentri Besar claimed that PAS and Umno would not see eye-to-eye because the principles of both parties are vastly different.
“Umno rejects Islam. Umno puts fear into people because PAS was talking about the concept of an Islamic nation.
“But for Umno, it’s a case of Malays first (Ketuanan Melayu) versus PAS’ Islam first (Ketuanan Islam),” Nik Aziz told The Malaysian Insider.
The veteran politician claimed that shortly after the 2008 general elections, when PAS had amassed many parliamentary seats in Kelantan, Umno had approached the Islamist party on the proposal of a unity government.
But Nik Aziz was quick to condemn Umno’s move in 2008, stating that PAS considered Umno a “liar” and that it had learnt from the mistakes of the past.
“As far as I am concerned, right now there are no longer any talks. The last time there was,” said the Kelantan MB.
He recounted how PAS had in the past briefly joined Barisan Nasional (BN) and that it resulted in a divided PAS.
According to Nik Aziz, back in 1971 PAS had joined BN’s bandwagon when the late Tun Abdul Razak extended an invitation to the Islamist party.
“Umno was desperate back then, especially after the May 13 riots in 1969. When PAS joined BN, PAS Kelantan was split into four splinter groups, and we were not united because each group supported a different idea,” he said.
Nik Aziz pointed out that Umno eventually “kicked PAS out” of the BN coalition.
“We learnt from our mistakes. This decision is not my decision, it was the decision of the muktamar,” said the PAS man.
But party insiders say otherwise.
The PAS annual general assembly, which starts tonight with an opening address by Nik Aziz, is expected to see some top party leaders coming under fire from the delegates over lingering suspicion of possible unity talks with political foe Umno.
According to PAS members, top of the list to be grilled is its deputy president, Nasharudin Mat Isa, who survived last year’s party election in a three-cornered fight with then-vice presidents Datuk Husam Musa and Mohamad Sabu.
Also in the delegates’ sights is Selangor PAS commissioner Datuk Hasan Ali, who is seen as close to Umno.
In what was the party’s most divisive polls last year, Nasharudin’s followers were labelled pro-Umno despite repeated denials by the Bachok MP.
Husam, on the other hand, launched his campaign with a promise to strengthen Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and end what he claimed to be attempts to abandon the coalition.
The election was also seen as a fight between the “professionals,” who favour strengthening PR, against the “ulama” faction, who is said to prefer working with Umno in the interest of Islam.
When asked what would happen if the issue of PAS-Umno talks were brought up during the AGM, Nik Aziz said that the party would not stop anyone from airing out their views.
“If you want to bring it up its fine, but we have to be able to defend your reasoning (of wanting unity talks.)
“Why would you want to join (forces with) Umno?” said Nik Aziz.
This year’s muktamar will be held in Kota Baru from today till June 13, where over 1,000 delegates are expected to attend.
The newly-formed non-Muslim wing, the PAS Supporters’ Congress, will also participate in the muktamar for the first time.