PKR’s hand of friendship to PAS, offered in the hope of ensuring one-on-one fights between the opposition and Barisan Nasional, could cost PKR its seats in the next general election, Ilham Centre executive director Hisomuddin Bakar said.
He said PKR risked alienating Chinese voters if it continued to pursue political cooperation with the Islamist party.
“There is a big possibility that Chinese voters will abandon PKR if it patches things up with PAS. Just a 20% swing in the Chinese vote will cause PKR to lose all its seats in Selangor.”
He said Chinese anger at PAS was not easily appeaseable, according to a study by Selangor government think tank, Institut Darul Ehsan.
“The IDE study found that only 1% of Chinese in Selangor would support PAS. If their anger at PAS is transferred to PKR for cooperating with it, PKR is finished in Selangor.”
Hisomuddin said during the 13th general election, PKR had garnered 80% of the Chinese vote and PAS, 60%.
The warning follows a report by The Malaysian Insight that PAS elected representatives in the states of Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan are hoping to persuade party headquarters to allow them to extend political cooperation to Pakatan Harapan to ensure direct contests against BN for PAS and the opposition in the three states at GE14.
PAS severed ties with PKR, a move that was unanimously passed at the party’s 63rd muktamar in April.
In 2015, it cut ties with DAP over ideological differences regarding hudud, or the Islamic penal code, in Kelantan. The split caused the breakup of the opposition pact then known as Pakatan Rakyat.
Pakatan Rakyat has been replaced by Pakatan Harapan comprising PKR, DAP, PAS splinter party Amanah, and Bersatu, a new party started by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
PAS, meanwhile, has joined a second pact, Gagasan Sejahtera Rakyat, comprising Parti Cinta Malaysia, Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia, and Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia.
PKR’s continued overtures to PAS are also not going down well with its Pakatan colleagues and even within the party, Hisomuddin said.
“The reformists, or reformasi activists, will oppose cooperation with PAS. Do not underestimate their influence.”
Disastrous for all
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali has been conciliatory towards PAS and reluctantto form a Pakatan secretariat in Selangor, where he is menteri besar.
His ambivalence has been attributed to fears of three-cornered fights which could hurt PKR’s chances in the election.
But PKR cooperation with PAS could also prove disastrous for other Pakatan components Amanah and Bersatu, which could end up with fewer seats if PKR and PAS were to reach an agreement to share seats.
“If PKR works with PAS, Amanah and Bersatu will lose the number of seats they wish to contest, because seats will then have to be shared with PAS. Would Amanah and Bersatu be agreeable to such a plan?” Hisomuddin said.
Such a scenario could see Amanah and Bersatu revolt and place their candidates to run against PAS, even if PKR had promised those seats to PAS.
“It will mess up PAS’ plans because it will be faced with the three-cornered fights that it hopes to avoid ,” Hisomuddin said.
Amanah’s leadership, meanwhile, says they can accept PKR’s attempts to reach out to PAS, but stress that any talk of reconciliation must be done within the PH framework and not by PKR going at it alone.
“We can accept PKR talking to PAS, but any discussions should be held in Pakatan’s name and not PKR’s. The Pakatan presidential council must be consulted before any decision is made,” said Amanah communications director Khalid Samad.
Either way, it appears that if PKR has been talking to PAS, the Pakatan allies are unaware of it.
“PKR has not reported to the Pakatan presidential council any attempt to cooperate with PAS,” said Bersatu’s strategic director Dr Rais Hussin.