Malaysia Islamic party faces decision time on Selangor

Khalid Ibrahim (centre) with opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim (left) and PKR’s Selangor chief Azmin Ali (right) at a political rally earlier in February. -- PHOTO: SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Khalid Ibrahim (centre) with opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim (left) and PKR’s Selangor chief Azmin Ali (right) at a political rally earlier in February. -- PHOTO: SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

When leaders of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) meet Sunday morning to begin deliberations on the political crisis engulfing Selangor and the state’s embattled Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, they will be under the microscope like never before.

The meetings of the PAS central commitee (CC) are usually about matters involving just the Islamic party.

But this time around, its decision has big implications for Malaysia.

If PAS leaders decide to continue support for Tan Sri Khalid, it will likely break up the three-party Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance that has gained wide support among Malaysians as a potential alternative to the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.

A decision to support Mr Sri Khalid could also prolong the crisis, in a blow to Malaysia. This is because continued political chaos could subvert the smooth running of Selangor, Malaysia’s richest state that produces nearly a quarter of its economic output.

First, a recap: Menteri Besar Khalid was sacked by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) after he refused to step down as instructed by party leaders, and refused to attend party meetings to explain several controversial decisions he made as state leader.

Selangor is governed by the PR alliance that groups PAS, PKR and the Democratic Action Party.

Mr Khalid last week removed six of the Selangor state cabinet ministers who are from PKR and DAP.

He is continuing to run the state with four PAS assemblymen as executive councillors, as allowed under the Selangor constitution.

PAS has not abandoned him as its Syura Council (consultative council), consisting of its top Islamic clerics, has said it is standing by Mr Khalid until he is found guilty of allegations of shady deals in court or by the anti-corruption agency.

Here are the various scenarios of how the PAS CC, consisting of 38 leaders (including three women), would move. The meeting is slated to start at 10am at its party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

1) PAS abandons support for Mr Khalid.

About half of the 38 party chiefs strongly support the PR alliance as a way for PAS to expand beyond its base in the Malay belt states in the north and east of Peninsular Malaysia. They are aware that continued support for Mr Khalid will likely break up the PR.

2) PAS continues supporting Mr Khalid

This will lead to further turmoil in the alliance and cause its break-up.

3) PAS abandons support for Mr Khalid, with one condition.

PKR and DAP have agreed that PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail be appointed as the next Selangor chief minister. The PAS condition is that another name be submitted as a candidate for consideration to the Sultan of Selangor, who will appoint the chief minister. The “extra” name often bandied about is that of PKR’s Selangor chief Azmin Ali.

4) PAS CC leaves the final decision to its Syura Council.

This means passing the buck back to its top clerics, who had earlier decided to back Mr Khalid.

reme@sph.com.sg