Malaysia's opposition to wait till Anwar verdict to decide on succession plan

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaking to the media ahead of the verdict in his final appeal against a conviction for sodomy in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaking to the media ahead of the verdict in his final appeal against a conviction for sodomy in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's shaky opposition coalition will wait until after Tuesday's verdict in the sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim before deciding on a succession plan if necessary.

It was the first meeting of Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) top leaders since October, when the coalition failed to solve a leadership crisis in Selangor - Malaysia's richest state, which the tripartite alliance controls.

After a brief hour-long meeting on Sunday, Anwar told a press conference that there had been no discussions over replacing him should he be found guilty nearly seven years after the sodomy allegations surfaced.

"We only decided we will convene a leadership council meeting after the decision of the court," he said.

The coalition has spent most of the past 20 months since gaining the popular majority in the 2013 General Election publicly quarrelling over contentious policies such as Islamic criminal law and local council elections, as well as the position of Selangor chief minister.

It failed to win enough parliamentary seats to form the federal government in the 2013 polls.

The two policies, which have locked the secular Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) in a bitter feud, will also only be resolved in a later meeting.

PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub told reporters that the leadership council - the coalition's highest decision-making body - will meet within a month to deliberate over these two issues.

Today's meeting was the first attended by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang since the beginning of 2014 - when Parti Keadilan Rakyat first tried to put its leader Anwar in power in Selangor.

Datuk Seri Hadi opposed the move, and has since defied leadership council decisions made in his absence, leading the DAP to threaten to boycott council meetings should the PAS chief fail to turn up.

shannont@sph.com.sg