The proposal by the PAS and Umno youth wings to hold a joint protest against the shamefully provocative film The Innocence of Muslims has been abandoned due to safety reasons. The youth wings of the parties will now stage separate demonstrations Friday in Kuala Lumpur.
But the idea, which was discussed this week between Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and PAS Youth Chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi, has inevitably done enough to renew speculation about some sort of tie-up between the two parties – either formal or informal.
The Islamist Party has proposed since 2010 "common ground" talks with Umno, raising questions about its commitment to Pakatan Rakyat and more recently, its faith in a GE13 victory.
So in the light of yet another cordial discussion between the two parties this week, the question has to be asked: Is PAS keeping its options open? After all, when the joint protest idea became public, PAS Vice President Salahuddin Ayub said: "The joint protest is not a sign that we are going to leave Pakatan," knowing full well his comments would only fuel speculation to the contrary.
PAS' motives for such mischief-making are clear enough. The party, which made such huge gains at GE12, has since then rarely missed an opportunity to say to PKR and DAP: You need us more than we need you. If you want proof of this just look at how reluctant Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is to pull the party into line, forever leaving that job to poor, embattled Karpal Singh. Anwar will do anything to avoid upsetting PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and PAS Spiritual Leader Datuk Nik Aziz Abdul Nik Mat.
But what Umno would get out of a deal with PAS is less clear. Having point blank reassured the rakyat that BN won't countenance hudud, the ruling coalition is in a much better position than Pakatan. For the Opposition, hudud rears its head as a potential vote-losing issue on a daily basis, while at BN it doesn't even come up in conversation. Umno would not put that advantage at risk by getting too close to PAS ahead of an election.
Then there is that fact that BN doesn't need PAS. Its fortunes are improving, it polls well with Malay Muslim voters and PAS seats in Kedah and Kelantan in particular are on its shopping list at GE13.
But that doesn't mean PAS isn't playing a very clever game on two fronts. On the one hand, it bangs the drum for hudud in order to hold onto its conservative base and to remind Anwar that the tail can wag the dog. And now, it again does nothing to discourage the idea that it could be the kingmaker after GE13 in the event of an inconclusive result.
This will come as a rude shock to DAP, the party that enjoys seeing the media style it as the "Chinese kingmakers." It has long been assumed that Karpal Singh and the Lims senior and junior could hold the keys to Putrajaya after GE13.
But what if they went to the minority BN Government two days after a close election with a list of demands, only to be told that BN would rather do business with PAS than with them?
The Innocence of Muslims outrage has done more than just unite Umno and PAS. Religions around the world have joined forces to decry what is a deliberate and crass attempt at vilifying a single faith for the sake of getting a reaction.
In Malaysia, DAP has now quite rightly thrown its support behind the demonstrations against the film which is also opposed by the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) and the interfaith group Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.