Big mistake if Umno plans to partner PAS in Sabah, say analysts

KOTA KINABALU: Two political analysts here believe Umno will be making a grave mistake if it were to partner with PAS in any upcoming election in Sabah.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s Lee Kuok Tiung and Rahezzal Shah Abd Karim of UiTM Sabah agreed that Sabahans would reject politics of race and religion.

Lee Kuok Tiung.

Lee said Sabah Umno should not only take into consideration the uniqueness of the state but should also review its position in Umno.

Commenting on the recent Sungai Kandis by-election where Barisan Nasional lost to PKR, he said it was clear the Umno-PAS combination had not worked there. It would fail miserably here, he added.

“This will not be accepted by Sabahans who are moderate people and we all live in harmony, with not many racial issues. We all tolerate each another.

“Sabah Umno should seriously review their position if the party’s new direction is like that. It doesn’t fit the Sabah context.

“A collaboration with PAS gives us the impression that the new Umno is moving towards PAS’ Islamic identity. Working with PAS also seems like Umno is losing its identity,” Lee told FMT.

He said Umno’s move to use racial and religious rhetoric in the Sungai Kandis by-election did not sit well with many Sabahans.

“Even (former Umno youth chief) Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin spoke against this tactic,” he said, referring to Khairy’s criticism of Umno’s use of such sentiments to strike fear in voters.

PAS decided to give way to BN to allow its Umno candidate to contest the Sungai Kandis seat. PKR’s Mohd Zawawi Abdul Mughni defeated BN’s Lokman Noor Adam in that by-election.

Recently, Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan said BN would return the favour by sitting out the Seri Setia by-election to let PAS contest the state seat. Following that, PAS hinted it might not contest the Balakong seat, in another by-election.

Rahezzal Shah Abd Karim.

Meanwhile, political scientist Rahezzal Shah said: “I don’t think Sabah Umno will work with PAS because in the first place, PAS doesn’t have a presence in Sabah.

“And Umno in Sabah is different from the peninsula. For instance, on the ‘kalimah Allah’ issue before, Umno leaders over there had to be careful on what they said but leaders here came out to say the issue did not arise at all in Sabah,” he said.

Another uniqueness about Sabah Umno is that it has non-Muslim members, he added.

Politically I don’t see why Umno needs to form a pact with PAS here. Sabah Umno must be different from the peninsula if they want to remain relevant… that is the political reality in Sabah,” Rahezzal said.

PH will win by-elections

Meanwhile, Lee predicted that Pakatan Harapan would win both by-elections in the peninsula.

“The voters will take into consideration who’s the government now to decide who they want to vote for,” he said.

However, he said, PH has to address the dissatisfaction over its failure to uphold promises made before the election.

He said although PH would still win in the next two by-elections, if it did not address its weaknesses it would fail in future.