Malaysia's opposition pact will not cooperate with PAS

Pakatan Harapan is working on a strategy to avoid three-cornered contests.
Pakatan Harapan is working on a strategy to avoid three-cornered contests. PHOTO: FACEBOOK / PAKATAN HARAPAN

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's opposition alliance said it will not cooperate with the country's largest Islamic party at the next elections, raising the possibility of multiple-cornered fights that could benefit the ruling coalition.

Pakatan Harapan is working on a strategy to avoid three-cornered contests, it said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 29), without elaborating. The alliance is made up of four parties - Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Parti Amanah Negara.

The Islamic faction Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) had teamed up with PKR and DAP in the last two general elections in 2008 and 2013, making up the Pakatan Rakyat pact that disbanded in 2015.

The opposition has failed to capitalise on gains made in the 2013 election, when it won the popular vote for the first time, though Pakatan is betting that dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Najib Razak over living costs will be enough to sway voters. 

Still, the statement confirms Pakatan and PAS have failed to come to a compromise on which seats to contest. The next election is due to be called by the middle of next year, with speculation Datuk Seri Najib may call it sooner.

PAS will compete in at least 42 of 56 state assembly seats in the state of Selangor, one of its officials was cited as saying by the Bernama news agency on Aug 24. In the 2008 election the opposition won control of Selangor, Malaysia's most populous state which surrounds the capital Kuala Lumpur.