Infighting could weaken Selangor state government

PKR leader Azmin Ali is Chief Minister of Selangor despite PAS holding the same number of seats in the state assembly.
PKR leader Azmin Ali is Chief Minister of Selangor despite PAS holding the same number of seats in the state assembly.

PAS, PKR at loggerheads and this could benefit BN at next polls

KUALA LUMPUR • The increasing rancour between Islamist party PAS and its ally PKR could weaken the state government of Malaysia's wealthiest state of Selangor, analysts say, just ahead of the general election widely expected this year.

Allies from 2008 after a surprise win in that year's general election, the two parties are turning against each other as Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) accuses Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) of not appreciating its support, and working closely instead with two other opposition parties that are its nemeses.

The bickering is closely watched amid the bitter split in the wider opposition ranks and this has boosted the odds that Prime Minister Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition would easily win in the national polls.

Both PAS and PKR have the same number of seats (13) in the Selangor state assembly. Yet, PKR leader Azmin Ali is Chief Minister of Selangor, the country's most industrialised state with the highest collection of tax revenues.

PAS Youth leader Hanafi Zulkapli said over the weekend that Datuk Seri Azmin should be kicked out as the Selangor Menteri Besar for showing disrespect to PAS.

"Azmin must realise that PAS has strong grassroots support all over the state, unlike PKR which does not have a strong force to help the party during election," Mr Hanafi said, as quoted in the party's newspaper Harakahdaily.

Several PAS divisions have made resolutions to sever ties with PKR, including its relationship in Selangor, The Star newspaper reported over the weekend.

PKR, PAS and two other parties control the most number of wards in the 56-seat state legislature. PKR's ally Democratic Action Party (DAP) has 14 seats and PAS offshoot Parti Amanah Negara holds two.

The Selangor opposition consists of 12 assemblymen from BN and two independent lawmakers.

While a PAS withdrawal from the Selangor government would not lead to its collapse - PKR-DAP- Amanah would still have the minimum 29 seats - the remaining parties would be bereft of a major Malay party in their ranks. This is an important consideration in Malaysian politics. The party led by ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, and Amanah - both new parties - do not have wide Malay-Muslim grassroots support.

PAS is increasingly leaning towards PM Najib's Umno, a Malay nationalist party that leads BN.

But analysts warn that PAS, which governs only in Kelantan, could be weakened without being in the Selangor government.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has said that the party wants to be a kingmaker. It will not be joining the opposition alliance or BN.

He said in a recent speech widely reported by Malaysian media that PAS aims to win 40 Parliament seats at the next general election.

It also wants to retain the Kelantan state assembly, win back Terengganu and Kedah states and help to govern Selangor.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2017, with the headline 'Infighting could weaken Selangor state government'. Print Edition | Subscribe