KUALA LUMPUR – The four Pakatan Harapan parties have established a timeframe to conclude seat negotiations for the general election that is rumoured to be held this year, ahead of schedule.
Malay Mail Online understands there are also plans underway to distribute the seats PAS had contested in Election 2013 to Amanah and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), as the Islamist party has made it clear it wants nothing to do with Pakatan Harapan.
But the issue of seat negotiations, expected to conclude after Hari Raya in June, will likely be a complicated affair due to PKR and PPBM’s refusal to write off PAS entirely as an ally.
DAP and Amanah feel Pakatan Harapan should forge ahead and conclude seat negotiations within the pact and other allies like Parti Warisan Sabah as soon as possible, and leave PAS out of the equation.
PAS seats for Amanah, PPBM
“The current situation is that Pakatan Harapan has four parties. The seats previously contested by PAS will be shared between Amanah and PPBM because now we’ve got four parties instead of three.
“There will be some seats contested by PAS which will be contested by PPBM… the question of the three-cornered fights is something inevitable, we can’t deny (the) possibility it will occur,” Amanah communications director Khalid Samad told Malay Mail Online.
He said Pakatan Harapan’s election strategy will be to shape the GE14 contest as choice between the Opposition pact and Barisan Nasional, as PAS will most likely not have enough seats on its own to become a “government.”
“There might be even some seats which PKR give to PPBM to contest,” the Shah Alam MP said, but quickly stressed that “nothing was finalised yet.”
In Election 2013, PAS contested 73 parliamentary seats. PKR and DAP contested 99 and 51 respectively.
Khalid said that Amanah is hoping to contest 38 to 40 parliamentary seats, including some in Sabah.
“The discussion on seat negotiations is on the way and will carry on probably right throughout this month to the end of Ramadhan, Hopefully to finalise parliamentary and state seats by Raya,” he added.
DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke confirmed the tentative deadline, saying his party expects negotiations to carry on for another one or two months.
“As far as DAP is concerned, we will only negotiate within the parties in Pakatan Harapan,” he said when asked whether there was still a possibility for PAS to be included in the seat talks.
Loke said that Pakatan Harapan parties will also begin reaching out to their respective state leaders starting next week to canvass for views on whom they wanted to represent the pact on the federal or state level.
(Still) hoping for straight fights
But while DAP and Amanah seem set in cutting off ties with PAS, other allies are still hoping for an electoral pact with the Islamist party.
PAS resolved during its muktamar last month to end its working relationship with PKR, its last quasi-formal link to the opposition pact, although the motion has yet to be adopted by its Syura Council.
PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said that his party was still negotiating with PAS with the aim of avoiding multi-cornered fights in GE14.
He said that PKR is the only party left with an open line of communication with PAS, as the latter has publicly stated they will not work with PPBM, Amanah or DAP.
“Can we get PAS to negotiate when other parties do not want to negotiate? It’s tough, but we are trying,” Saifuddin said, adding that his party is preparing for both outcomes.
PPBM’s Datuk Rais Hussin, who heads its policy and strategy bureau, said his party was not ready to close the door on PAS despite the public snub.
“We are calling for a magnanimous negotiations among us. We don’t sever ties.
“None of our senior leaders have said anything about severing ties. We are an inclusive party, and want to include as many parties as possible in order to be able to form a formidable coalition,” the PPBM supreme council member said.
Oh Ei Sun, adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said that while the intention of those within Pakatan Harapan to try and reach out to PAS may be noble in nature, it will not likely yield any favourable results.
“Their intention may be noble, trying to avoid three-corner fights and so on. But those in power in PAS appear to consider their long-term ideological struggle (by forcing Umno to adhere closer to their religious agenda) to be far more important than short-term political gain (if any, by returning to Pakatan fold),” he said.
– Malay Mail