Pakatan Harapan is wrong to think that PAS is weakened when some of its leaders left to form Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), said Perak Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir.
Zambry was quoted saying by The Star Online that the opposition coalition, especially DAP, had miscalculated the political landscape when they thought there would be a 'Malay tsunami' through PKR, Amanah and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), in the coming general elections.
"They (opposition) thought PAS would collapse when Mat Sabu formed Amanah with several others. They think PAS is weak. I am not backing PAS, but I think they (Harapan) have made a miscalculation," he was quoted saying at the opening of the Gerik Umno division yesterday.
He said Umno and PAS remained the "two most dominant" Malay parties in the country and urged Umno members to work hard to face the general elections, which "can be called anytime."
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's tactic to win the 14th general elections is to form an informal cooperation with Islamist party PAS.
Citing the racial makeup of Malaysia at 60 percent Muslims, and 50 percent ethnic Malays - many of whom live in rural areas, the report said Najib needs the support from this group to extend Umno's grip on power beyond its 60 years, and thinks that ties will PAS will help.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, in turn, hopes the ties with the prime minister will give the party a better chance to influence government policy, it added.
“The issues of race, ethnicity, the Malay language and especially Islam, are close to the heart of the Malays. By working together to uphold Islam, either through the implementation of shariah law, or strengthening the position of Islam within the administration, this serves both parties well," Bloomberg quoted Mohamed Mustafa Ishak, a professor of politics and international studies at Universiti Utara Malaysia, saying.
Najib had allowed Hadi to table a private member's bill in parliament to push for amendments to the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355, which is expected to be debated in the current parliamentary sitting. Hadi and Najib had also shared the same stage in several public events lately.
The report then quoted Hadi's son Muhammad Khalil saying that PAS was flexible, and is willing to work with any quarters or parties, as long as it benefitted Islam and Malay Muslims.
Harmful to Malaysia's harmony
The tactic of prioritising Islamic voters would be "extremely harmful" to Malaysia's harmony, warned Oh Ei Sun, principal adviser to Malaysia’s Pacific Research Center.
“It would also inadvertently nurture a hot bed for misguided religious extremists and fundamentalists to spread their twisted versions of intoxicating ideologies.”
Kuala Terengganu MP Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah, said PAS, had in recent years, moved to weed out its moderate members as it only wants "yes men".
"This election is crucial, it's make or break," Kamarul, a former PAS lawmaker who was part of a group which broke away to form Amanah, was quoted saying.