PAS backs PKR president Wan Azizah as opposition leader in Malaysian parliament

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (centre), wife of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, arrives at a polling station during a by-election in Permatang Pauh, in the northern Malaysian state of Penang on March
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (centre), wife of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, arrives at a polling station during a by-election in Permatang Pauh, in the northern Malaysian state of Penang on March 7, 2015. Malaysia's opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) said on Monday that it will back Dr Wan Azizah as the opposition leader in Parliament. -- PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) said on Monday that it will back Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the opposition leader in Parliament.

"Last Saturday, we had a meeting...we all agreed for Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to become the opposition leader in Parliament," Malay Mail Online quoted PAS information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar as saying.

"By principle, the party with largest representation should become the leader and that is DAP,'' he said, referring to the Democratic Action Party.

"Since they hand over the leadership to PKR, we respect DAP's decision," said Mahfuz.

PAS, PKR and DAP - parties of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance - had failed to agree on the next opposition leader since PKR's Anwar Ibrahim, jailed for sodomy, was disqualified as a member of Parliament on March 16, triggering by-election in Permatang Pauh, the Malay Mail Online reported.

His wife Wan Azizah won the by-election on May 7 with an 8,841-vote majority, with PKR securing 30,316 votes to Barisan Nasional's 21,475. She was around 3,000 votes shy of Anwar's 11,721-vote majority in the last election in 2013, despite the lower voter turnout of 74 per cent.

Political analysts had earlier told Malay Mail Online that Dr Wan Azizah might face resistance from PAS in her bid to replace Anwar. PAS had previously opposed her candidacy for the post of Selangor mentri besar, which eventually led to PKR deputy president Azmin Ali's appointment as chief minister of the state.

Last Friday, DAP's Lim Kit Siang said his party backed Dr Wan Azizah to be the opposition leader.

"Dr Wan Azizah's solid and impressive win in Permatang Pauh paves the way for her to be re-elected as the parliamentary opposition leader," Lim said.