I have met top PAS leaders for talks, says Pak Lah

Posted by Penarik Beca Monday, July 21, 2008

PM says he has met with PAS leaders (Video)

The Star (21/7/08): Talks between PAS and Umno have advanced to another stage with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi saying that he has met “very high level” PAS leaders three times.

The Prime Minister declined to reveal who the leaders were but said they were top-level leaders who could make decisions in PAS.

PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, however, was not present during the discussions, he said.

”The meetings are at the initial stage. There is no need to give other details as you will make all sorts of speculation,” Abdullah told reporters after the launch of the National Cooperative Day here yesterday.

In an immediate response, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang issued a statement confirming that the high-level meetings did take place and discussions had centred on Islam and the Malay issues.

“The first meeting occurred immediately after the recent general election and it involved PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa, its Terengganu commissioner Datuk Mustapha Ali and Shah Alam MP Abd Khalid Samad,'' Hadi said, adding that the meeting had been reported to PAS' central committee and it's Majlis Syura Ulama or consultative council.

“The council unanimously decided to give its blessings to the president, deputy president and the secretary-general to intensify efforts to integrate Muslim folks and the people of Malaysia based on Islamic principles,'' he added.

He said following the council's decision, a subsequent meeting was held between Abdullah and Nasharudin at the Parliament building.

“PAS is prepared to ensure the success of the muzakarah (dialogue) with Umno for the benefit of Muslims and the Malays,'' Hadi said.

News of the discussions between the two major Malay parties first broke when Hadi admitted in an article in Harakah that the party had held discussions with individuals from Umno to look into political cooperation and issues concerning Muslims and Malays.

The PAS-Umno talks, however, seemed to have split the party as Nik Aziz said he was open to the idea of “small discussions” between PAS and Umno members but not party-to-party meetings.

Abdullah had previously said that he was ready to hold discussions with PAS leaders to strengthen unity among Muslims in the country.

Yesterday, Abdullah said the two sides agreed that they should not fight about issues relating to religion.

“We are talking about some issues which I think are important.

“It is very important that we don’t fight about matters relating to religion. If religious matters are politicised, it will bring about problems to the Muslims.

“There are several other topics discussed but there is no need to elaborate,” he added.

Asked whether Umno had set conditions during the discussions, Abdullah replied: “Why should we set conditions? It is troublesome. The discussions were sincere. We discussed whatever views we felt appropriate to be discussed.”

On the collaboration between PAS, PKR and DAP, he said: “We didn’t talk about their cooperation with others.”

Asked when actual discussions were going to take place, Abdullah said the meetings he held were serious. “It is not a game.“

On Nik Aziz’s proposal that there should be a third party at the discussions, the Prime Minister said: “At this stage, I have not considered whether there is a need for a third party or not.”

Yesterday, when told what Abdullah had said, Nik Aziz changed his stand about the dialogue with Umno, saying he was open to it.

Nevertheless, he insisted that a third party needed to be present during the dialogue.

Nik Aziz said he was unaware of any informal discussions taking place between PAS leaders and Abdullah.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said the muzakarah (dialogue) was good to unite the people.

“As the minister in charge of unity, I encourage such discussions as they will benefit the people when there is unity regardless of political ideology,” said Shafie, who is the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Abdullah should act as the Prime Minister of Malaysia by taking into consideration the interest of all Malaysians instead of just one race.

In Ipoh after opening the Taman Tasek Damai DAP branch at Kampung Tawas in Ipoh, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said the party was not aware of what was going on in the Umno-PAS talks.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh said any discussions between Umno and PAS need to be endorsed by Pakatan Rakyat.

“I think a matter like this has far-reaching consequences and should be agreed upon first,” he said, adding that the matter was never brought before Pakatan Rakyat.

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