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New Straits Times 03 april 2001

Umno and Pas agree to 'new approaches' in pursuing unity talks
By Ainon Mohd

KUALA LUMPUR, Mon. - Umno and Pas today agreed not to raise issues that could jeopardise efforts to realise the Malay unity talks.

During the technical committee meeting both parties agreed that they would adopt new approaches in pursuing the objective.

Datuk Zainuddin Maidin, a member of the Umno technical committee, said both parties had agreed to work together and create a conducive atmosphere for the talks.

However, Zainuddin, who is also the Information Ministry's parliamentary secretary, declined to elaborate on what the approaches were.

"As much as we can help, we try not to politicise the meeting but to work on the technical issues to ensure the talks materialise.

"We have discussed finding solutions to aspects which can hinder the talks and minimise issues which can create more difficulties for the meeting to take place.

"The meeting today was positive as both parties were able to present their agenda. We do not foresee problems which cannot be solved."

He said this after the third Umno-Pas technical committee meeting which lasted almost two hours at Carcosa Seri Negara.

Zainuddin is one of two new technical committee members appointed by Umno.

The other new Umno member is Mohd Ghazali Ahmad, a former Terengganu Pas deputy commissioner.

Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob, the party's executive secretary Datuk Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, the Prime Minister's political secretary Datuk Dusuki Ahmad and Umno headquarters' administration manager Abu Khamis were at the meeting which Zainuddin characterised as cordial.

Zainuddin said Pas did not impose new conditions and had voiced its willingness to continue discussing preparations to ensure that the inter-party talks on Malay unity would take off.

"We have not decided on the date of the talks yet. I believe that we will be meeting again. We are on the way to achieving our main agenda which is to make the Umno/Pas Malay unity a reality.

Zainuddin said the outcome of today's meeting would be presented to the Umno supreme council for further discussion.

Pas secretary-general Nashruddin Mat Isa echoed a similar sentiment, saying both parties had achieved positive results.

Nashruddin heads the Pas technical committee. Its other members include the political secretary to the Opposition leader Dr Hatta Ramli, Harakah managing editor Dr Hishamuddin Yahya and Pas Pahang State liaison secretary Dr Abdul Wahab Ismail.

The two new members who also attended the meeting today are Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi and Dr Zulkifli Ahmad.

Pas had, before this, three pre-conditions which Umno had to fulfil before it would agree to the talks.

The party wanted Umno to restore Pas' right to publish its official newsletter Harakah twice weekly instead of twice a month.

Pas also wanted Umno to ensure that Petronas petrol royalties be paid to Terengganu.

Its last pre-condition was that Umno drop its plans to stop organisations and political parties from using "Islam" in their names.

Nasharuddin said Pas is still insisting Umno meet its first two pre-conditions.

However, Pas is dropping the third pre-condition following the recent Rulers Conference statement that it did not oppose the use of the word "Islam" in the names of organisations.


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