KUALA SELANGOR (THE STAR /ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Islamist party Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) is unperturbed over the signing of a pact by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition coalition, and the move is not a threat to PAS, its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has said.
The PH coalition - or Hope Alliance in Malay - had agreed to abide by a code of conduct at its first leadership meeting on Saturday (Jan 9) in a bid to bind the three parties closer together. The agreement also seeks to avoid the pact's loose "agree to disagree" framework that led to the break-up of its previous iteration, known as the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance, and which had included the now-estranged PAS.
"PAS is the most experienced party in Malaysia and has only grown stronger since it has been in existence during pre-independence days," Hadi told reporters on Sunday (Jan 10) after launching the Selangor election machinery in Kuala Selangor.
He said that the party had also faced off other political challengers, similar to the PH, in the past.
"Pakatan isn't new and this goes to 'all sorts' of Pakatan over the last 60 years. Some have collapsed and died off, some have collapsed and never got up, unlike us. We have grown stronger by the day," he added.
The three members of PH are Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara - a PAS splinter group. Formed three months ago, the PH last year replaced the seven-year-old PR alliance following a spat between the DAP and PAS over PAS' implementation of hudud.
Hadi also said PAS was not intimidated by its splinter party, the Parti Amanah Negara, despite possibilities that the Islamist party may go head to head against it and its "traditional" enemy the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, in a three-corner fight in the next election.
"We have faced far larger political parties in the past including parties, which have had the support of the Federal Government, like that of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Front (Berjasa) and the Muslim People's Party of Malaysia (Hamim)," he said.
Some of Amanah's leaders had left PAS and to set up the splinter party after being accused of being friendly with DAP. Those members were eventually ousted from the Islamist party during its internal election last June.
PAS had earlier made it clear that it would not join the PH, but would maintain its political cooperation with PKR.
On Saturday (Jan 9), leaders of the three parties yesterday inked the Pakatan Harapan Agreement, which outlines key internal workings on dispute settlement and ideology, though they have yet to unveil joint policies to drive their quest to unseat the long-ruling BN.
Meanwhile, PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said on Sunday (Jan 10), the party will not give up its seats even to an opposition party in the next general election, having learnt lessons from its experiences with former allies in its history.
He added that PAS had "sacrificed a lot" in giving up seats to former allies and it was time to go "head to head" with Barisan Nasional in the polls.
Tuan Ibrahim cited an example of PAS' cooperation with former ally Parti Negara in the 1960s, Semangat 46 and other parties, which he claimed "took advantage" of the party's generosity.
"When cooperating with Parti Negara, we gave up our seats to them. When cooperating with PKR, we helped them with the election machinery," he said.
"And now, they are asking us to cooperate with the new coalition, meaning that we need to give up our seats. That will never happen," he told thousands of PAS members at the launch of the Selangor election machinery.
"The president (Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang) had told us to help our allies but it was said that when they won, they kicked us out," he added.
Selangor PAS commissioner Datuk Iskandar Samad earlier said that the party aimed to contest in 25 seats in the next general election, compared to 20 in the last polls.