Malaysia Islamist party PAS to sever ties with Anwar Ibrahim's PKR

Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) will sever ties with former opposition ally PKR, which is led by jailed leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) will sever ties with former opposition ally PKR, which is led by jailed leader Anwar Ibrahim. PHOTO: THE STAR

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's main Islamist party Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) announced on Thursday (May 11) it would sever ties with former opposition ally PKR, the party led by jailed leader Anwar Ibrahim.

PAS Syura (consultative) Council secretary Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh said at a press conference the decision was based on PKR's opposition to PAS's Islamic agenda, including the latter's drive to amend Malaysia's Syariah law, reported The Star online.

"Firstly, it's because PKR has not supported and instead opposed PAS' Islamic agenda such as RUU355," Zawawi was quoted as saying, referring to the parliamentary Bill submitted by PAS.

"Secondly, PKR has gone against the spirit of political cooperation by attacking the leadership and making false accusations against PAS, in turn tainting the party's image.

"Thirdly, it has betrayed the political relationship with PAS by working with others who want to topple the (PAS-led) Kelantan government and went against PAS during the by-elections in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar," he said.

Zawawi later told reporters that president Abdul Hadi Awang was ready to meet PKR leaders if the latter still wanted to maintain a relationship.

He added that said any political decisions made by the party, including issues on the administration of the Selangor state government, would be handed over to the PAS central committee.

After Malaysia's most successful opposition coalition collapsed in 2015, former allies PAS and PKR continued to maintain a working relationship in Selangor. PAS jointly runs Malaysia's richest state alongside PKR and its other former ally, the Chinese-led Democratic Action Party (DAP).

But PAS did not join the new alliance, Pakatan Harapan, comprising PKR, DAP, Parti Amanah Negara and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

Relations soured further in the past year, escalating into a war of words between PAS and PKR leaders. PAS members urged their leaders to cut ties with PKR.

But the repercussions of such a move may prove too detrimental for PAS. Ending political ties with PKR means PAS leaders will have to quit their roles in the Selangor state government. Putting off the decision would allow PAS to keep its options open over who it wants to join forces with.

PAS, with its ambitious goal of winning 40 parliamentary seats and five states, appears confident that it can negotiate power-sharing, should any one bloc fail to gain a majority at the next election, expected to be called this year.