PETALING JAYA • Malaysia's opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has asked its representatives in the Kelantan state government ruled by the Islamic Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to step down, as the rupture in ties between the two parties looks irreversible.
PKR, led by Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim - made the decision on Kelantan after the meeting of its political bureau on Tuesday evening, according to the Free Malaysia Today news site yesterday.
"This message has been sent to the chairman of Kelantan's (PKR) leadership council," she said.
The call for PKR's political appointees in Kelantan to step down from their posts is the polar opposite of what PAS is doing in Selangor, a state with a PKR chief minister.
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PAS' three Selangor cabinet ministers, or executive councillors (exco members), have refused to step down from their posts, with party leaders saying only the Sultan of Selangor could tell them to quit.
The Islamic party is also hanging on to its other political appointments in Selangor town and municipal councils, village development and security committees (JKKK), and mosques, despite being derided by other opposition parties.
Reacting to PKR's directive, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said yesterday that PKR appointees in Kelantan could stay on.
"We in Kelantan have decided to retain the PKR members in the state government administration. However, if they want to withdraw or resign, it is entirely up to them," he told reporters, as quoted by The Malay Mail Online news site.
PAS has governed Kelantan, one of Malaysia's poorest states, since 1990.
The state assembly has 45 constituencies with 31 controlled by PAS. PKR has one seat.
Another 12 wards are controlled by state opposition party, Umno, and one by PAS splinter group Parti Amanah Negara.
The PAS-PKR governing coalition has appointees in Kelantan municipal councils, JKKK and mosques.
PAS quit an alliance grouping the major opposition parties nearly two years ago. It is now leaning closer to ruling party Umno, which is led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, but had continued its political affiliation with PKR in Selangor.
But it decided last week to abort this so-called "political cooperation", blaming PKR - a Malay-led multiracial party - of not supporting its Islamic agenda and of throwing insults at its leaders.
PKR denied the claims, but added that if PAS has abandoned its alliance in Selangor then its leaders should step down from all political posts.
But PAS' Datuk Takiyuddin said only the Sultan could ask its appointees to step down.
He said on Monday: "In the Selangor constitution, it is clearly stated that exco members in the state government hold their positions at the pleasure of the Sultan, even if it is on the advice of the Menteri Besar.
"That means as long as the Sultan favours the PAS assemblymen to be members of the exco, they will remain there."
The party is set to contest the upcoming general election, speculated to be called later this year, with its own "third bloc" consisting of itself and three small parties.