The Malaysian Insider 17 June 2015

A new opposition coalition without PAS will only be stronger and more stable, analysts said, after DAP announced yesterday that the seven-year-old Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact was over.

Not only do DAP and PKR have more similarities than differences, the analysts said, but they would also now understand the importance of ironing out ideological issues before proceeding further.

A coalition without PAS would be preferable, especially if it could attract the progressives in the Islamist party sidelined in the recent PAS muktamar, said Dr Wong Chin Huat, a political scientist from Penang Institute.

“A coalition would be naturally stronger if they have more in agreement than in disagreement,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of think-tank Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) agreed, saying he believed PAS would collapse, pushing forward a more modern and sophisticated Islamist party that would be part of the new coalition.

“But I don’t think it will be PasMa because the new party needs to have key progressive figures and PasMa does not have them,” he said, referring to the PAS splinter group that supports continued collaboration with PR allies, DAP and PKR.

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said the new coalition would be a lot more stable, predictable and cohesive than PR was, noting that DAP and PKR should look at Barisan Nasional (BN) as an example of those characteristics.

“We cannot discount the fact that BN, as a coalition, is a lot more cohesive and stable. They have had years of experience and have been in power for so long. To compete with BN, the new coalition has to be just as united.

“And I think if DAP and PKR were working together, they would have a lot going for them as they would not be starting from scratch. They each have certain strengths that they can pull together.”

DAP announced yesterday that PR ceased to exist, adding that it would only work with PKR and “other forces” to end BN’s hold on federal power.

Its secretary-general, Lim Guan Eng, said the party’s central executive committee, its highest decision-making body, had decided to accept the motion by PAS at its muktamar or annual congress recently to sever ties with DAP.

“Effectively… Pakatan Rakyat ceases to exist,” Lim had said.

The political observers said DAP was only stating the obvious as Malaysians have already known that PR, which managed to deny BN its traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament in the 2008 and 2013 elections, was finished in the last few weeks.

The relationship between the three parties – PKR, PAS and DAP – was no longer like before, said Wan Saiful.

“I think Pakatan as we know it, had ended even if DAP had not made the announcement. The relationship is no longer like before. And there is nothing that PKR can do to fix the problem.”

Wong added: “Nominally, Pakatan still exists after DAP’s pullout but realistically speaking, the coalition is dead.”

Khoo added that DAP was not wrong in calling out the end of PR, as the coalition was formed on a tripartite cooperation, which had already been broken.

PAS, at its recently concluded muktamar, agreed on a motion to sever ties with DAP without debate. This came about after DAP had earlier decided to cut its ties with PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang but said it would continue to work with the party.

PAS was already at loggerheads with its PR allies in a series of incidents over the past year, including the Selangor menteri besar saga and violations of the pact’s common agreements by Hadi.

Others include Hadi’s willingness to forge a unity government with Umno, his support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and his insistence on implementing hudud in Kelantan by failing to discuss the Islamic penal code with PR partners first before it was tabled in the state legislature.

Defying his PR partners, Hadi had also tabled a private member’s bill in Parliament to enable the implementation of hudud.

Khoo said today Pakatan’s break-up could, in fact, be a blessing in disguise as it gave DAP and PKR the opportunity to learn from their mistakes made in the coalition.

“It is a good lesson and now they have to regain the trust that people have put in them as what BN had previously accused them of being – a marriage of convenience – has now been proven to be true.”

The analysts also brushed off talk that the Selangor government would fall with the collapse of PR, but agreed that PAS and DAP could no longer work together in a government.

“Selangor won’t necessarily fall. PKR and DAP can work with PAS reps who are likely to leave PAS. They will have a working majority,” said Wan Saiful.

“I think DAP and PAS working together is simply not practical any more. DAP has more or less said that PAS’s president is a liar. I cannot imagine them working together.”

Professor James Chin, director of Asia Institute in University of Tasmania, said Selangor was safe as long as its Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali did not sack any of the state excos and appointees from PAS.

“No, Selangor is safe, PAS wants power so nothing will change as long as the PAS excos and other appointees are not sacked by Azmin,” he said.

Wong agreed, saying that the state government may survive but as a downgraded “ad hoc coalition” rather than the “permanent coalition” they were previously, where conditions of power-sharing were more explicitly spelled out. – June 17, 2015.

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