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The Umno, now the main opposition party in Malaysia, is trying to rebuild the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that has fallen apart since the shock election defeat of May 9.
But it might have to give more space to the Islamists from the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, which is the second biggest opposition group with 18 parliamentarians.
The PAS controls two states, Terengganu and Kelantan, and poses a challenge to the Umno in the Malay belt as well as among Malay voters who are still in support of the Umno.
The question the Umno leaders are asking is whether they should let the PAS in the BN?
The BN today is a broken entity, with only three parties remaining in the coalition, from a whopping 14.
A day after the General Elections, the BN started to falter with component parties pulling out of the coalition.
The Umno, the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) are the three remaining parties in the coalition.
With the Umno in shambles and its current leaders bound to face probes by the anti-corruption agency or prosecuted for corruption activities when they were in power, the party is facing a potential collapse.
To save itself, it might have to get the PAS on board the BN or press the Islamists into a formal political alliance.
So far, Umno and PAS have played ball against the Pakatan Harapan government. They joined forces in a walk-out from the Parliament last week.
The PAS and Umno are attacking PH on several issues, but it is the distance they kept between themselves that has so far made their unofficial ‘union’ work.
Both parties are not comfortable to seal an official deal that would see them sit together in the BN as component parties.
They are of opposing ideologies and they have little in common except for their converging views about the PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the PH government.
And in the new Malaysia, opposing the current PM and his coalition government does not augur well for both the BN and the PAS.
While Umno is in dire need of support from the PAS – at least to play an effective role as an opposition party – the PAS does not need the Umno in this conjuncture.
The PAS poses a bigger problem for the Umno. The Islamic party has set its objective for the next General Elections. That is to take power from the PH which it predicts will fail and will fall apart before the next elections in Malaysia.
That would mean defeating the Umno altogether or play at the same level field with the former ruling party of Malaysia.
The PAS has not shown any intentions of joining with the Umno in future polls, though it might give tacit support when it feels necessary to the party of Zahid Hamidi.
Too much support to Umno might discredit the PAS since it might boost the ill-fated party on the political scene. Thus we can see why the PAS has given only lacklustre support to the Umno.s
This is also in contrast to the Umno’s going headlong for the PAS to join the BN. But the PAS has been so far too cold towards this idea. The Islamists would not want to join any coalition from now on unless the conditions are met.
These conditions are namely: 1. Accept the PAS as a leading party, with a larger or equal share of cabinet posts. 2. Adopt the PAS’s so-called-Islamic agenda that is pushing for the Hudud or the revision of existing Islamic laws in the country.
The PAS left the Pakatan Rakyat in limbo causing its destruction but the opposition grouping became the formidable Pakatan Harapan.
The Umno will not be able to rope the PAS in if the PAS continues to believe that it is the party that will take power in the country in the next GE.
Hence, the BN seems doomed from here onwards and it looks likely that the Umno will have to fight its battle in the Malay hearts against the PAS and the PKR-Amanah-Bersatu union.