02 October 2014
The Malaysian Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance is at a crossroads following the recent crisis over the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Selangor: Whether the three partners, PKR, DAP, PAS, part ways or remain together depends on how the surprising turmoil within the Islamist party PAS is resolved.
The Malaysian Islamist party, PAS, held its muktamar or annual congress, in the southern Johor town of Batu Pahat on 18-20 September 2014. Watching the tension-filled muktamar was like waiting for a slow burning fuse to explode, as one after another, the party leadership responded to delegates’ criticisms of their handling of the Selangor Menteri Besar or “MB” crisis. That was essentially an internal squabble of its opposition partner PKR over its attempt to replace its chief minister in Selangor state.
However what began as a PKR problem quickly and surprisingly spread to engulf PAS, primarily because the spillover was not well handled by PAS’ president, Hadi Awang. For some inexplicable reason, Hadi had refused to go along with PKR’s sole nominee for the post, Dr Wan Azizah – its president and wife of Anwar Ibrahim, even though the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance) which also included the DAP had agreed to this. Hadi’s resistance divided PAS internally and even threatened to bring down the entire alliance. Though the PAS leaders defended their positions during the muktamar, they only succeeded in stirring up the deep division between the party’s two pillars – the ulama or clerics and the professionals whose influence has grown over the years.
…Yang Razali Kassim is Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 03/10/2014