The Asian Voice

Shaky start for Malaysia's new Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition?: The Star

Malaysian Opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail attending a meeting on the formation of a new opposition alliance on Sept 22,  2015.
Malaysian Opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail attending a meeting on the formation of a new opposition alliance on Sept 22, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

Formation of the new pact comes as a surprise to some PKR leaders

By Joceline Tan

The Star/Asia News Network

By right, the birth of a new political coalition should be a thrilling thing but the formation of Pakatan Harapan on Tuesday (Sept 22) drew lukewarm interest and may not enjoy full support from all Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leaders.

The former Pakatan Rakyat, pronounced dead by the Democratic Action Party (DAP) some months ago, has been repackaged to comprise DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah).

In the advertising world, it would be known as rebranding, but given the politics of the day, Pakatan Harapan seems designed to get rid of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and replace it with Amanah.

The press conference to announce the new set-up went smoothly but news started trickling out late last evening that the roundtable discussion was quite stormy with some insisting on more discussion and for a more inclusive coalition.

However, the group that wanted to rush the announcement of the new coalition was bigger and louder and they got their way. This group was dominated by the DAP and Amanah politicians who were also the ones most determined to exclude PAS from the coalition.

Several personalities were also believed to have walked out of the meeting because they did not want to be party to the announcement.

"It was supposed to be a round table discussion but some people felt they were being made use of to endorse a new coalition that had not been well-thought through," said an insider.

It is understood that PKR president Wan Azizah and secretary-general Rafizi Ramli have been bombarded with WhatsApp messages and e-mails criticising the hasty announcement.

The insider said a PKR Supreme Council meeting had made it clear the discussion from the round-table meeting was to be brought back to the party for further discussion before any decision is made.

Instead a decision was pushed through at the round-table session and it has caused an uproar in PKR.

They feel Datuk Seri Wan Azizah jumped the gun in introducing the new coalition and some of them are now trying to push for an emergency supreme council meeting.

Critics of the new set-up also pointed out that there were no Sabah or Sarawak representatives and they were also unhappy that Parti Sosialis Malaysia was excluded while newcomer Amanah was allowed to call the shots.

However, some pointed out that all the top PKR leaders, including their vice-presidents, were present at the big pow-pow. They had given their okay and it would be difficult to back-track.

PAS held an emergency Dewan Harian or presidential council meeting in Kota Baru late yesterday to discuss the new development. The party has no intention of exiting the Selangor administration and is unsure of what to do next.

Both DAP and PAS are equally compromised in this whole rigmarole.

DAP says it is opposed to PAS but is still in the same state government as PAS. PAS calls the Amanah leaders "traitors" but is unwilling to walk out of a state administration that includes the "traitors".

A PAS insider said party president Hadi Awang is so fed-up with the Pakatan leaders that he has written to the Parliament Speaker to be allocated a new seating spot.

Datuk Seri Hadi is currently seated between Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the opposition leader, and DAP's Parliament Whip Lim Kit Siang. Mr Hadi has requested to be seated with the other PAS MPs.

The new coalition's priority is to avoid multi-cornered fights in the next general election, but PAS is already preparing to go into seats where Amanah will be contesting.

It is also learnt that former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had given specific instructions that he wants everyone on board, and that any new coalition must be inclusive and that PAS, which commands the Malay heartland, cannot be pushed around like this.