The game plan laid by Nik Aziz and supported by Anwar has caught Umno by surprise.
However, as the events unfolded, it is now proven to be a very well planned attempt to steer Umno out of its recent âfeel-goodâ factor into more troublesome waters.
The initial reaction by Umno on the offer by Nik Aziz was to open the door for a resumption of the abandoned PAS-Umno unity talks.
Then came the conditions imposed by the PAS Mursyidul Am which upset Umno and sent many of its leaders into a âvitriolicâ demonisation of PAS.
This included Dr Mahathir Mohamad who warned Umno to approach the PAS-Umno talks with caution. Umno leaders quickly ridiculed the âconditionsâ laid before them by Nik Aziz.
Utusan Malaysia, the Umno Malay language mouthpiece, carried several articles on the PAS-Umno talks in which the Umno leaders were flabbergasted by Nik Azizâs conditional approach to these talks.
They were shell-shocked that the PAS leader from Kelantan gave the impression that he was determined to discuss with Umno but made a sudden turnaround to impose âridiculousâ conditions for the talks.
What Umno has not seen yet is the impact of the attack plan orchestrated most probably by both Nik Aziz and Anwar Ibrahim, the two topmost leaders of Pakatan Rakyat.
Knowing the powers of persuasion of Nik Aziz and his unique approach in handling the political scenarios in the country, the seemingly sudden U-turn was to be expected.
It was impossible for Nik Aziz to make the offer for âunityâ talks without knowing the shock wave it would bring both to Pakatan and the Umno. It was also not on his own personal accord as both Anwar and Nik Aziz have been coordinating and charting the Pakatan work charts in tandem.
The comments by Anwar, published on FMT on the PAS-Umno unity talks, indicated that he had full control of the situation.
Nik Aziz would not talk of PAS-Umno muzakarah with the intent to âdestroyâ Pakatan. On the contrary, the fact that Anwar said he supported the talks and that these were to âteachâ Umno to stop cheating in the polls, not to be cruel and to eliminate corruption showed his perfect communion with Nik Aziz.
Despite the denial by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang that PAS ever made such offers for fresh talks with Umno, the fact remains that Nik Aziz achieved a few political gymnastics with the issue.
Nik Aziz’s game plan
While Hadi was wise to ârejectâ the offer of a dialogue â he suggested that Umno cleans itself and cleans up the electoral roll before talking to PAS â others failed to see through.
Former PAS deputy president, Nasharuddin Mat Isa, was in the news when a minister and a top Umnoputera attended the wedding ceremony of his daughter.
Nasharuddin made clear-cut statements that indicated he was still very supportive of a PAS-Umno union and targeted what he called âparasitesâ who were stopping this union.
This, according to Nik Aziz, indicated that there are still some within PAS who want to steer the party into the arms of the BN coalition.
Nonetheless, the strategy by Nik Aziz was to throw down the âIslamicâ gauntlet to Umno. The latter, which virulently rejected the PAS conditions, showed its fear of being tagged an âIslamicâ party.
One of Nik Azizâs conditions is that Umno must turn into an Islamic party first before it talks to PAS. The rejection of this condition by Umno clearly showed its âconcernsâ over issues that are dear to PAS such as hudud.
Now that Anwar has said PAS-Umno talks should go on in order to teach âIslamâ to the latter, Umno’s rejection of this (line of thinking) will make it look anti-Islamic.
The impact on Umno will be felt when it faces the rural electorate, with PAS as the driving force in the rural areas. On the Malay mainland, Islam plays an important part of the âelectoralâ battle.
Nik Aziz’s game plan, supported by Anwar, has caught Umno off-guard. After it claims great success for its 66th anniversary at the Bukit Jalil stadium, the party is now in a fix over the âIslamâ issue, which will be exploited by PAS.
KL-based Amir Ali works for an Indonesian NGO called the Warisan Melayu Riau, which is based in Bengkalis, Riau.