Pas has more to lose if it joins Anwar’s unity government

A political analyst says Pas will have more to lose if it were to join Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government.

Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk said with Bersatu, Pas is in the driver’s seat (under the Perikatan Nasional banner), but will be relegated to the back if it were to join Anwar’s administration.

“Pas is the party with the most number of seats and forms a strong opposition force with Bersatu. The two parties believe Perikatan Nasional is a force, and going by the recent state elections, they may be right,” said Azeem.

“Pas now controls four states – Perlis, Kedah, Terengganu, and Kelantan. It and Bersatu also captured 22 of the 56 seats in Selangor, denying the Pakatan Harapan-Umno alliance its two-thirds majority, said Azeem, who is director of the Centre for Policy Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Azeem added that Pas’ long history and animosity towards other members of the coalition government – Amanah, Umno, and especially DAP – is another stumbling block.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently remarked that Pas needed to change its attitude to join the government, and accused them of having “marriages of convenience” to grab power.

“Of course, Umno would feel threatened by having Pas in the picture. If Pas were in the picture, would PH need Umno?” asked Azeem.

“Then, there is the issue of working with DAP. Pas has used the party as the boogeyman to scare the Malay voters, and vice-versa.

“If it agrees to work with DAP, Pas would have no bargaining chip when it meets the voters. As such, I do not see Pas abandoning Bersatu at this time. I believe they are already strategising for GE16.”

Pas was the big winner, with 44 seats, in Malaysia’s 15th General Election on Nov 19, 2022. DAP was the next highest with 40, while Anwar’s party, PKR, had 31 seats. Bersatu has 29.

However, Kemaman Pas MP, Che Alias Hamid, lost his seat after the Terengganu Election Court nullified the victory after finding ‘elements of inducement of voters during the campaigning period’.

While talks on a move to join the unity government had been making its rounds, the matter gained traction after Anwar, in a recent Time Magazine report, said that he had been open to the idea of working with Pas for some time now, in the best interests of the nation.

While Pas members may discuss the matter at its annual congress this weekend, Azeem believes nothing will come out of it.

Azeem also said Anwar should also be wary of a potential backlash from East Malaysian parties, as they do not view Pas favourably.

Would they walk out the door with Umno if Pas becomes part of the government?

“Anwar will be on better footing if he can get rid of Umno, which has too much political baggage, but if Umno leaves, those from Sabah and Sarawak may follow suit,” said Azeem.

Umno has 26 seats, and its Barisan Nasional partners, MCA and MIC, have three, giving that coalition 29.

Azeem said the only way for Pas to be effective in the coalition government is if one of its MPs became deputy prime minister.

Malaysia, however, already has two deputy prime ministers – Ahmad Zahid (Umno) and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu).

Azeem added if BN joined with the East Malaysian parties (56 seats) and Bersatu and Muda (30), they could form a new government by having 115 seats, three more than a simple majority, leaving Pas on the sidelines again.

“So, Pas joining the government is not as simple as it sounds. It can only work if all parties accept it. Otherwise, it could get messy.”

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