|Husam taunts Umno: Don’t contest Manek Urai|
|Andrew Ong | Jun 16, 09 5:27pm Malaysiakini.com|
|If Umno is so keen on pursing ‘unity talks’ with PAS, it should not contest in the upcoming Manek Urai by-election, said former PAS vice-president Husam Musa.
“What is the point of having ‘unity talks’ and yet wanting to fight against us?” Husam told Malaysiakini in a telephone interview today.
“If Umno is sincere, the first thing they have to do is not contest against PAS (in Manek Urai). But I don’t believe Umno is ever sincere.
“If they are serious about ‘unity talks’, the onus is for the top leaders of both parties to work out a no-contest situation. If that cannot be done, how can the ‘unity talks’ resolve bigger issues?”
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and his deputy Nasharuddin Mat Isa caused a storm at the recent PAS muktamar by aggressively floating the idea of forging closer ties with Umno.
Husam and party spiritual adviser Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, however, are against this.
Umno president Najib Abdul Razak had responded this morning that he feels PAS is sincere in wanting to form a unity government and that Umno is open to talks.
Some 12,000 voters will go to the polls in Manek Urai, Kelantan, on July 14, while nominations are set for July 6.
Umno is adamant about pulling off an upset in Manek Urai, after deciding not to contest the Penanti by-election last month.
Although the majority has been slim in previous elections, Manek Urai is considered a PAS stronghold as the state seat was held for five terms by Ismail Yaakob, until his death on May 22.
‘Altantuya issue will surface’
Should Umno field a candidate in Manek Urai, the by-election would become a “major test for Najib”, said Husam.
Husam said this is because this would be Najib’s first by-election as premier, and one held in a Malay-majority and rural area in the peninsula at that.
“After failing to win in urban or mixed seats, they think they can do better in a Malay-majority rural seat. But knowing the Kelantanese, they won’t stick to local issues alone,” said Husam.
“I think the Altantuya issue and corruption will be a major election issue. It will be a test for the new prime minister.”
Manek Urai is the seventh by-election since the last general elections in March last year, and the fifth since Najib was sworn in as prime minister on April 9.
Barisan Nasional’s sole win was by retaining the Batang Ai state seat in Sarawak.