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Psycho warfare

  • There should be a limit as to how far a political psycho war can go; once overboard it could easily distract the country's focus on revitalizing the economy.

Sin Chew Daily

Tun Mahathir claimed that PAS president Hadi Awang had signed an agreement not to back Umno in the Semenyih by-election.

However, PAS denied the claim, arguing that the party would only support Tun M until the next general elections.

According to news reports, Mahathir agreed to meet Hadi Awang, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan and Terengganu menteri besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar last Friday upon a request from Hadi.

There have been wild speculations over why Hadi has wanted to meet the PM at a time Umno and PAS are working so closely together.

Some say it could be due to the case of RM90 million donation received by PAS from 1MDB, which is being probed by the MACC soon after Hadi struck an out-of-court reconciliation with Sarawak Report editor-in-chief Clare Rewcastle Brown. Hadi may be seeking the PM's "advice" over the follow-up developments.

Some others feel that the Islamist party may be seeking the federal government's assistance in view of the financial problems of Kelantan and Terengganu, especially on oil royalty. In reciprocation, PAS offers to support Mahathir's leadership.

It is not the first time Hadi has expressed his wish for Mahathir to remain as PM until the dissolution of the Parliament probably because he has something against PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and DAP when the three parties were in Pakatan Rakyat. PAS will not have good days if Anwar were to take over in two years' time. Compared to Anwar, PAS seems to be more receptive to Mahathir.

PAS also wants to seize the opportunity to accuse the other two PH component parties of trying to topple Mahathir, and for PAS to express its support for Tun M with the hope this will spark internal conflicts and skepticism within the ruling coalition.

To support PPBM also goes well with Hadi's position on a Muslim-dominated government.

On the back of PAS' "offer", Mahathir has claimed that the party will not back Umno in Semenyih probably because of three reasons:

1. To sow the seed of discord between Umno and PAS. Umno leaders will begin to doubt Hadi's sincerity while the confidence of PAS members towards their president may also be affected.

PAS' open statement to back Mahathir is definitely not music to Umno's ears because most Umno leaders hope Anwar's takeover will give the party some kind of relief.

2. By not supporting Umno, votes from die-hard PAS fans will not go to Umno, giving PPBM an easy win in Semenyih.

PPBM has wanted to prove its support among the Malays through the Semenyih by-election, and the Umno-PAS tie-up is perceived as the single biggest stumbling block.

3. To undermine Hadi's credibility. The RM90 million political donation incident has clouded the PAS president's credibility. PAS central committee member Nik Abduh claims that Hadi has told him to deny that it was his voice in the recording admitting PAS' acceptance of Umno's donation.

PAS has denied that it has pledged not to back Umno in Semenyih, but how many people will actually trust Hadi again?

After the Mahathir-Hadi meeting, some are beginning to worry that they are trying to put together a grand unity plan for the Malays. This, nevertheless, does not warrant such a concern because records show that the PM has never really liked PAS.

PAS is no match to Mahathir when it comes to political mastery. By comparison, Umno appears to be a little restless, as evidenced by the violence on nomination day against youth and sports minster Syed Saddiq.

PAS is Umno's only hope to stage a comeback, but the Islamist party may just abandon it for one reason or another. Umno's ill destiny is not over yet.

That said, there should be a limit as to how far a political psycho war can go; once overboard it could easily distract the country's focus on revitalizing the economy and may even be dangerous. For instance, some PKR leaders say it is alright for PPBM to accept former Umno reps and to go into Sabah, arguing that they have never supported a proposed new law to ban party-hopping.


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