KUALA LUMPUR • A new group that aims to reboot the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition alliance was officially launched yesterday, comprising leaders from the professionals faction of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), who were wiped out in last month's party elections.
The Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB), or New Hope Movement, is led by former PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu. Many of the group's key members are other former PAS leaders.
"The objective of this movement is to get the cooperation between the political parties, NGOs and the people moving," said Mr Mohamad, who is widely known as Mat Sabu.
"We adhere to democratic values and respect the position of all races, religions and cultures," he added.
GHB is keen to register as a political party and wants to take the place of PAS as a member of a new PR alliance, sometimes referred to as Pakatan Rakyat 2.0.
The Islamic party PAS, together with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), were members of PR from 2008 until its formal death last week. The split came about after years of dispute between PAS, which wants to implement tougher Islamic laws, and the secular DAP, which bitterly opposed them.
PKR waffled between supporting one view and the other.
With Datuk Seri Anwar in jail and the death of PAS' pro-PR spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat in February, the PAS-DAP dispute turned into ugly name-calling.
It led DAP to declare that it will work with PAS but not its president Abdul Hadi Awang, saying he had breached a pact in the PR alliance not to bring up the issue of the Islamic penal code, called hudud.
This caused conservative PAS leaders to ask its members to vote out its own leaders who lean towards the opposition alliance, for being more loyal to PR than to PAS. Most members obliged.
Mr Mohamad and the other professionals were defeated, forcing them to first form the Group of 18 - named after the number of leaders from the professionals faction who lost - and now, GHB.
The other key members of GHB are former PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub, former PAS Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, the former Umno vice-president who joined PAS. They continue to remain as PAS members because GHB is not a political entity yet.
But it remains unclear whether there is any real hope for GHB without a wide membership base or a clear political platform. Mr Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, the PAS deputy president who defeated Mr Mohamad in the PAS polls, asked whether GHB has a clear platform like PKR, when it was set up.
PKR declared that it would fight for justice and reform, and for the release of Mr Anwar.
Without a clear vision, Mr Tuan Ibrahim said, "this new party would not strengthen or add any value to the opposition", according to The Malay Mail Online.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK