After PAS lashed out at Umno for refusing to cooperate in the Johor polls, Umno vice president Mohamed Khaled Nordin responded by seemingly complimenting while also taking a dig at the Islamist party.
Noting PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang's boast that his party has more than one million members and will strike back if Umno continued to trigger snap polls, Khaled concurred with Hadi that PAS was indeed strong.
As such, Khaled said PAS should prove that strength. Khaled also assured that Umno won't try and ride on PAS' coattails, in an apparent jab at PAS wanting to cooperate with Umno for the polls.
"I admit PAS' greatness. PAS is a big party and very great. May they prove their strength and greatness in the Johor polls soon.
"I assure Tan Sri (Hadi), Umno-BN won't try and ride on PAS' greatness and strength with its one million members.
"But don't get angry at us for refusing to cooperate or ride on PAS' greatness and strength," Khaled (above) said in a statement.
He also disputed Hadi's justification for insisting on cooperating with Bersatu.
PAS wanted its pact with Umno under Muafakat Nasional to be expanded to include Bersatu.
This has caused PAS and Umno to drift apart. Umno is bent on eliminating Bersatu, a splinter party.
He said Hadi's insistence that Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional (PN) were needed to maintain multiculturalism did not make sense as BN also comprised various races.
Khaled sarcastically suggested that Hadi invite Amanah and DAP to PN and Muafakat Nasional to show his seriousness about diversity. PAS considers Amanah and DAP as enemies.
Khaled defended Umno's decision to trigger snap polls in Johor, insisting that the Johor government should be democratically elected.
He added that the current BN-PN government in Johor, which was installed following the collapse of the Harapan government in 2020, only had a one-seat majority.
"We cannot continue to have a government formed through manoeuvring by politicians which denies people's choice.
"Even though Tan Sri may favour it, it is immature and goes against the principles of democracy and honesty," he said.
Yesterday, Hadi accused Umno of being ungrateful, stating that PAS had helped nursed Umno when it was a lame duck but that the Malay party was now abandoning them.
He also said PAS was not a beggar after Umno was only willing to offer the Islamist party four seats in Johor to contest if cooperation were to happen.
The Johor state assembly was dissolved on Jan 22, paving the way for fresh polls within 60 days.
The Election Commission is expected to announce the nomination and polling dates on Feb 9.