PM: I've met with PAS leaders

Posted by Penarik Beca Monday, July 21, 2008

The Star (20/7/08): Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi admitted that he had personally met with "highest-level" PAS leaders three times to discuss Islam, Malay unity and other issues.

The Prime Minister however declined to reveal whom the leaders were, merely saying that they were top-level leaders who could make decisions in the Islamist opposition party.

PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat was not present during these discussions.

Nik Aziz had earlier said he was open to the idea of “small discussions” between PAS and Umno members, but not to party-to-party meetings.

"We have held meetings, which are at the initial stage. There is no need to give other details. You will make all sorts of speculation," Abdullah told reporters after launching National Cooperative Day here on Sunday.

Abdullah, also Umno president, had previously only indicated that he was "ready to hold" muzakarah discussions with PAS leaders to strengthen unity among the Muslims in the country.

Pressed further on when the meetings took place, he said: "There's no need to tell you that. We've met three times already."

Asked who the PAS leaders were, he said: "Highest level. No need to ask everything. No need to dig for more information. That also, I have answered.

"Nik Aziz was not there. That I can say. Others, no need to ask. They are highest-level leaders. Those who can make decisions."

On whether any consensus was reached by Umno and PAS during the meetings, he said : "There were good agreements. We don't have to tell you what we want to do.

"We have agreed and know what needs to be done. We agreed that we should not fight about issues relating to the religion."

On whether the collaboration between PAS, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and DAP -- who collectively make up the Pakatan Rakyat alliance which won five out of 13 states in the March 8 general election -- were discussed during the meetings, he said "We don't talk about their cooperation with anybody else."

Asked when actual discussions were expected to take place, he said: "Even the meetings that have taken place are serious. It is not a game. You think it's a game?"

To a question on whether there were concerns among non-Malay component parties within Barisan Nasional about the talks between Umno and PAS, Abdullah he said: "I haven't advised them yet.

"I'm just talking. We're 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 Muslims. There are several other topics discussed but there is no need to elaborate," he added.

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