Malaysia is sliding into another political mess with the Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, the Islamic Party, engaging in a public spat with the ruling party Umno.
The Malaysian Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, is from the Umno and he is leading a shaky coalition with a slim majority in Parliament.
He depends on the support of the Islamists and of former PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s grouping, the Perikatan Nasional, to remain in power.
The Islamists hold 18 seats in the 222-seat Parliament. If they pull the plug on the Umno, the government will collapse and this may trigger a by-election in the country.
The Islamic party is stretched between two coalitions. The Muafakat Nasional and the Perikatan Nasional. The Muafakat is an ‘Islamic’ alliance formed by the Islamists with the Umno. They are also members of the PN headed by Muhyiddin and which also include the GPS from Sarawak.
The Perikatan lost power after Mr Yassin was forced to quit in August last year.
Islamists Leaving Muafakat?
While the situation is still fluid, it appears the Islamists popularly known as the PAS is breaking-away from the Umno and the Muafakat Nasional.
But nothing is official. The Muafakat is still alive on paper. The PAS is still a member of the grouping with the Umno. But they are in a catfight in public.
The fight between the Umno and the PAS also means the stability of the current government headed by Sabri Yaakob is shaky. It can fall anytime.
To make matters worse, an influential Umno leader in the state of Johor has said the party should not pay heed to the Islamists.
UMNO vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin says Umno must prioritise gaining the support of the all the voters in Johor which will determine the victory of Barisan Nasional (BN). He means the party should not focus only on Malay-Muslim voters.
According to him, UMNO’s friends in the Umno-led coalition Barisan Nasional must understand that their victory can no longer be attributed to UMNO alone but the party must also convince non-Malay voters that the rule of Umno and BN as the federal government in Malaysia must be restored.
“Increasing non -Malay support must be the most important strategy. First, we must return to the political formula of sharing power in the spirit of genuine partnership,” he says to Utusan Malaysia.
The Umno VP Mohamed Khaled Nordin a former Menteri Besar of Johor, says without the PAS, the non-Malay voters will come back to Umno.
The Johor state is holding a rare state-wide by-election after the collapse of the pro-PN government.
Umno is leading the Barisan Nasional coalition in these elections and is tipped to win.
The PAS with the PN is not expected to win the state polls while the divided opposition coalition is not seen as a favourite.