OPPOSITION alliance Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) linchpin, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), is scrambling to shore up its weakened Selangor state government after the alliance's abrupt collapse.
Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali yesterday denied that the coalition had fallen apart. He claimed PKR leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail's statement on Wednesday that PR could no longer "function formally" was misinterpreted to mean it is dead.
"Stick to that statement. Don't interpret… Pakatan Rakyat still exists," he said yesterday after chairing a meeting of the state's Economic Action Council (MTES).
"Because of what happened in the PAS muktamar, and also we felt that the action taken by DAP was a bit too hasty, therefore we see that Pakatan Rakyat no longer functions formally. That's all. Don't interpret beyond that," he added, in reference to the rift between the other two coalition partners, the secular Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Islamist Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which precipitated PR's crisis.
PAS had voted to sever ties with DAP earlier this month at its muktamar, or party congress. As a result, DAP on Tuesday declared that PR had ceased to exist.
But Mr Azmin's statement appears to contradict comments made by Selangor Backbenchers Club chairman Ng Suee Lim. The DAP assemblyman said a new coalition will be formed next month after Aidilfitri.
PAS, meanwhile, is insistent that PR is still intact. Its election director Mustafa Ali said yesterday that PAS would remain with PKR to keep PR alive: "Pakatan is not dead, (it has) only fainted."
Mr Azmin, who is also PKR deputy president, is now in a precarious position as PKR does not have the numbers to form a majority in the Selangor state assembly. It needs the support of DAP and PAS to form a state government.
DAP's Selangor chairman Tony Pua said yesterday that his party plans to meet Mr Azmin as soon as possible to discuss the Selangor situation. "We do not want a snap election, that's the last thing we want. But we want to resolve this in a manner that is consistent with the position that has been taken by DAP as well as by PKR (on Wednesday)."
How Mr Azmin will manage the Selangor state government crisis remains to be seen. But he will not forget that DAP had vetoed his nomination as Selangor's chief minister after the 2008 General Election. The post went to Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim who has since been expelled from the party and is an independent state assembly member.
The PKR leader is also indebted to PAS, which rejected Dr Wan Azizah's candidacy to replace Mr Khalid. Mr Azmin was eventually chosen by the state Sultan to head the state in September last year.
Jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim exhorted the opposition parties to continue working together against the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional. "I have been following the latest developments that have jeopardised the formal coalition of Pakatan Rakyat," said Anwar in a message delivered yesterday through his lawyer.
"I would like to urge our partners to continue focusing their full attention on ensuring that the Selangor, Penang and Kelantan governments care for the public's concerns, in accordance with the Pakatan Rakyat common policy."
PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli yesterday said the opposition-held states of Kelantan, Selangor and Penang will continue to operate as unity governments.
2 ways PKR can stay in govt
THE Selangor state assembly has 56 seats and any coalition needs at least 29 seats to form a majority government. The share of seats are as follows:
- DAP: 15
- PAS: 15
- PKR: 13
- Umno (member of federal ruling coalition Barisan Nasional): 12
- Independent: 1
There are two ways for PKR to stay in government:
- If PKR were to form a coalition with DAP, the two parties will be short of one seat. PKR could try to woo back former Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, who was expelled from PKR last year.
- PKR could also persuade one of the two PAS assemblymen - Hulu Kelang assemblyman Saari Sungib and Morib assemblyman Hasnul Baharuddin - who are serving a suspension from the party that ends in October this year, to cross over from their party and join the new coalition.
If PKR were to form a coalition with PAS, the two parties will also be short of one seat. But it could count on PAS-friendly Tan Sri Khalid or support from Umno to form a Malay-Muslim majority comprising PKR, PAS and Umno.
ASRUL HADI ABDULLAH SANI