KUALA LUMPUR, 17 June 2009: The status of PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa will be decided in the next party meeting, vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said.
“According to party traditions, such decisions would be made in a party meeting,” Salahuddin told reporters in Parliament today.
Salahuddin He was responding to PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat’s statement today asking Nasharuddin to quit the Islamist party and join arch-rival Umno, if it was true that Nasharuddin supported the formation of a unity government with Barisan Nasional (BN).
Salahuddin said the party would inform PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who first mooted the unity government idea, about Nik Aziz’s statement.
“We will wait for Hadi to return,” Salahuddin added. The party president is currently in London, and will return on 20 June.
PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar denied that Nik Aziz’s call was a sign of a rift within the party.
“I don’t see this as a split in the party,” said Mahfuz, adding, however, that he was surprised at the spiritual leader’s statement.
Meanwhile, Umno Youth deputy chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim described Nik Aziz’s statement as “unfortunate” for PAS, and said that Umno was open towards Nasharuddin joining its ranks.
“In Nasharuddin’s case, he is someone with good leadership qualities. Of course we would welcome him,” Razali said.
Razali stressed that Umno was “always open for anyone to join”.
“Nasharuddin is someone who is truly honest in his struggle. He should see what is best for him,” Razali added.
Nik Aziz (Pic by murdfreak; source: Wiki commons) Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Nik Aziz’s “advice” to Nasharuddin represented the views of some in the PAS party leadership and grassroots.
“I’m sure there is a context to [Nik Aziz's] statement,” Anwar said. “I am confident of Nik Aziz and Hadi’s abilities in settling this matter intelligently.”
The PKR adviser reiterated assurances he received from Hadi that PAS was committed to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition.
On 16 June, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that the BN was ready to hear PAS’s unity government proposal. On the same day, Nasharuddin was quoted as saying that he accepted Najib’s offer “with an open heart”.
Earlier today, PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustapha Ali said that PAS would only hold unity talks with Umno if its PR partners, PKR and DAP, were included.