It's the strongest response ever - PM Najib has described the call by PAS for unity talks between Umno and PAS as "sincere" and that the government was open to such talks. His key words were "willing" and "open" and that Umno was prepared to consider any proposal from PAS raised by the Islamist party.
Deputy PAS president Nashruddin Mat Isa, who is a big supporter of such talks, has responded positively to Najib's statement, but as a safety net, said the party would not be a stooge of Umno. This is probably to appease PAS members who are against the proposal.
But today's development is significant as it could set the stage for a new political landscape if the two biggest parties decide to sit down and work in common areas. Premature as it may seem, it could also be the beginning of something bigger now that the top guns have sent the right signals.
Even PKR has reacted cautiously to the proposal for unity talks by saying it would not object to such talks. The party is obviously aware that the sentiments of the Malay electorate, the largest core of voters, which want the two parties to work together. To object to such talks would be going against the sentiments of a large section of the community, particularly the Malay heartland. These two parties cannot afford to ignore the Malay-Islam agenda.
It is obvious that PAS is not comfortable with PKR leading the Pakatan Rakyat charge, with PAS leaders believing that they should be the one calling the shots. Hadi Awang is seen to be uncomfortable that the Islamic cause has been compromised by PKR and that DAP seems to be steering the course of the coalition.
It is no secret that while there were sympathies for the events leading to the collapse of the Pakatan-led Perak government and what had taken place at the Perak state assembly, there is also a great deal of quiet dissatisfaction over the aggressive nature of some PR elected representatives.
Then there is the question of Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy trial that would be coming up next month. There is some sense of nervousness as to what would crop up during the trial, even as the charges are being considered as a political frame-up.
But how the unity talks would take place is another thing. It could be open or just informal chats, away from the glare of the media and those against the idea. Or for that matter, if it takes place at all. Nik Aziz and his supporters would throw in everything to stop the talks and within the BN, there is also a need for Umno to explain to the other component parties what it is all about. Nash also said today that he would be meeting PR leaders to explain. In short - plenty to explain on both sides.
Interestingly, Anwar has quickly come out to diffuse the situation by saying that Hadi is committed to PR and will fully explain his views on the unity talks next Monday, the Star SMS Alert reported.It would be easier, however, if PAS and Umno would agree that these meetings would simply be termed unity talks, instead of Malay or Muslim. A technical committee, comprising secretaries-general of PAS and Umno, could be set up to explore ideas and the logistics.