Muhyiddin (File pic courtesy of theSun)
KUALA KRAI, 19 June 2009: Umno wants talks on a unity government to be sped up and asks PAS leaders to forget past conflicts in the interest of the unity of Muslims in the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today he wanted the talks to materialise because he feared that if the matter was allowed to be prolonged, it would create disunity among the Muslims.
“We will not impose any conditions and we accept whatever terms set by PAS. As far as I’m concerned, we have to be open,” Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, told reporters after a special meeting with educationists at Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Sok here.
The Umno deputy president urged PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat to forget about the conflicts between PAS and Umno in the 70s, when both parties cooperated to form the Kelantan government but PAS later pulled out because of internal problems.
“As Muslims we are encouraged to forgive. That was in the past,” he said.
Muhyiddin said PAS leaders who were disagreeable to the idea of a unity government should see that the past conflicts had occurred under the old administration and PAS was now helmed by new leaders with a new direction and objective.
Nik Aziz Nik Aziz, who strongly opposed the unity government proposal, told Nasharuddin Mat Isa on Wednesday to quit as PAS deputy president and Bachok Member of Parliament and join Umno instead if he persisted in discussing the matter with Umno.
Muhyiddin said Nik Aziz’s rejection of the proposal was an internal matter that PAS had to resolve.
To him, the important thing was PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s aspiration to make the unity government a success, he said, adding that PAS must make the first move to initiate the effort. Hadi Awang had called for the establishment of a unity government to solve the problems in the country during the opening of the 55th PAS muktamar on 5 June.
“We hope [that the meeting takes place] in the next few days. Anytime, no problem,” Muhyiddin added.
He said the initial meeting should be between PAS and Umno only, before the matter was discussed in a comprehensive manner with the component parties of Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat.
On claims by the opposition that Umno was weak and therefore wanted to work with PAS, Muhyiddin said the BN was still strong in the government, and this was evident from the fact that it had more MPs than the opposition in the Dewan Rakyat.
Earlier, in his speech, he said it was Umno’s aspiration to see Muslims in the country be united and of one mind despite having different political ideologies.
He said it saddened him to see the Muslims disunited now, all because of political differences. — Bernama