Fresh PAS attacks add strain on Malaysia's opposition

The youth wing chief of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), Nik Mohamad Abduh (centre), and members of his executive committee, at the annual party assembly in Kota Baru, on June 1.
The youth wing chief of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), Nik Mohamad Abduh (centre), and members of his executive committee, at the annual party assembly in Kota Baru, on June 1. PHOTO: BERNAMA

KOTA BARU, Kelantan (Malaysia) - The Malaysian opposition's already shaky relationships are crumbling, with Parti Islam SeMalaysia's (PAS) women's wing calling for a rethink of ties with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and the youth wing accusing the Democratic Action Party (DAP) of causing last year's exodus from the Islamic party.

The women's wing passed a resolution without debate on Wednesday (June 1), asking the Islamic party's top leadership to reconsider its relationship with PKR - the only opposition colleague the Islamic party continues to work with. The wing said PKR has repeatedly ignored the PAS stance on issues.

"From the Kajang Move to the conspiracy to topple former Selangor menteri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, PAS' views and stand were not respected and the sanctity of the opposition pact was defiled by schemes without PAS' knowledge," said the motion at the annual congress of the women's wing.

 
 

The Kajang Move was a plan by PKR in 2014 to install its de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim as chief minister of Selangor before he was jailed in a sodomy case. PAS supported Mr Khalid's continued leadership, despite PKR sacking him from the party.

PAS also rejected the choice of Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the new chief ministerial candidate. Youth chief Nik Abduh Nik Aziz, in a separate annual meeting of the youth wing, attacked DAP for trying to dictate the opposition, accusing the Chinese-dominated party of causing friction within PAS.

"Who started the accusations against the president (Abdul Hadi Awang)? Who caused the split in PAS until some leaders became drunk and moved to Amanah? DAP gave them alcohol and they formed Amanah," he said.

The Pasir Mas MP was referring to DAP's move to cut ties with Datuk Seri Hadi last year, after the PAS chief decided to unilaterally push for Islamic criminal law to be introduced.

The prolonged feud led to the end of the Pakatan Rakyat alliance that grouped DAP, PAS and PKR last year. About two dozen PAS leaders then formed Parti Amanah, and re-established a new alliance with DAP and PKR. The fresh attacks by PAS on its former allies at the congress that ends tomorrow is a bad sign for opposition followers banking on these parties to weaken the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is struggling to fend off graft allegations.

Both PAS and Amanah insist they will contest against each other in two upcoming by-elections, likely handing victory to Umno-led BN.

There are other signs all is not well within the opposition.

Malay-led but multiracial PKR, long considered the peacemaker in the opposition, is facing internal strife. PKR is also jostling with both DAP and PAS over government positions in Penang and Selangor states that are controlled by the opposition. While the Islamic party insists it will not join hands with Umno, PAS has continued to distance itself from its opposition colleagues ahead of a general election that must be called in two years.

Mr Nik Abduh said when closing the youth congress on Wednesday that it was Umno that was "changing strategy" and "reaching out because it knows it has lost support".

"Should we not accept good things from Umno? This is what we wanted since 1951. We compete peacefully in politics, but we open our minds and the public will choose who is better," he said.