2023 – Newsmakers: A Symbiotic Relationship

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Tan Sri Haji Hadi Awang
President of PAS

The 76-year-old seasoned politician has strong oratory skills and is the power behind the throne in Perikatan Nasional (PN).

His party controls four state governments and has 41 MPs in parliament. The Mentris Besar of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu are from PAS. The Islamic party, together with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), the party has made inroads into Selangor, Perak and even Penang.

Hadi s strategy to go it alone in the 2018 general election paid off in a big way.

Between March 2020 and November 2022, PAS was the kingmaker, irrespective of who the prime minister was for example, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was replaced by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri.

The party had only 18 MPs then, but was the determinant in deciding the prime ministership.

In the recent Kemaman parliamentary by-election, PAS fielded Terengganu Mentri Besar, Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar, and won with a thumping majority. Kemaman was a PAS stronghold and the party need not have fielded Ahmad Samsuri, better known as Sam .

Nevertheless, the victory showed the prowess of PAS in that state and that it was prepared to field professionals instead of religious scholars.

Hadi s biggest challenge is to win over the non-Muslims. Towards this end, he had said many times that the non-Malays need not fear Islam and PAS. But Hadi, also better known as Tok Guru, has made little progress in countering Islamophobia among the non-Malays.

PN has been unable to penetrate the non-Malay areas and is increasingly losing its support in Sabah and Sarawak.

Hadi had formed a formidable partnership with Muhyiddin and the duo managed to steer PN to a commanding position in parliament. But who will take charge of Bersatu after Muhyiddin and whether PAS will continue to accommodate its partner in parliament remains to be seen. — By M Shanmugam

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
President of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia

The 76-year-old former prime minister of 17 months heads Bersatu as it goes through a testing time with five of its elected representatives throwing support to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The move by the five MPs has weakened Bersatu s position in the opposition Perikatan Nasional coalition that is dominated by PAS. Muhyiddin is the president of PN and the coalition s prime ministerial candidate.

Also, the question of Muhyiddin regaining the position of prime minister if PN comes to power took a dent when he announced his resignation as Bersatu president in the party s congress last month. Twenty-fours later, he made a U-turn on the decision.

As head of Bersatu, Muhyiddin s biggest challenge is to see that there are no more MPs from his party openly declaring their support for the prime minister. The MPs contend that their move to declare support for Anwar was to ensure that they get an allocation from the government for the needs of their constituency.

Following the five MPs decision to support Anwar, Bersatu is now left with 26 MPs. One of the five had said that 10 other MPs would also declare their support for the prime minister in the coming months.

Muhyiddin and Bersatu cannot afford such a situation to persist. If more MPs leave the pact, the future of the party in the next four years will be in question. It has to make a decision on negotiations with the government on getting allocations for their MPs.

Muhyiddin started the year as a prime ministerial candidate because there was still speculation that the current government could fall, but that is unlikely to happen now.

Instead, he still faces charges of money laundering and is bogged down by the disappearance of his son-in-law, who is wanted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to assist in investigations related to foreign labour permits. — By M Shanmugam, https://theedgemalaysia.com/node/695563