OSTRACISED PAS leader Mahfuz Omar is expected to announce his resignation from the Islamist party today, becoming the latest lawmaker to leave PAS following its contentious decision to form a second opposition coalition.
Mahfuz’s exit will bring the number of PAS federal lawmakers down to 15 from the 21 it had after the 2013 general election.
It could also erode PAS support in Kedah, a state which the party aims to recapture in 14th general election, as Mahfuz was a former Kedah Pas commissioner and a popular party vice-president.
The Pokok Sena MP, who had openly lobbied PAS to work with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, is expected to announce that he will be an independent MP.
In advocating for a PAS-PH pact, Mahfuz had defied his party’s leaders and incurred the wrath of the rank-and-file, who want him out.
A source close to Mahfuz said the former party leader will announce that he is quitting at a press conference at 2pm in Alor Star, Kedah.
Mahfuz’s decision came about following pressure from his grassroots supporters, said the source.
When contacted, Mahfuz refused to confirm or deny this claim.
“I will only say something (at the press conference). Please come to my press conference,” he said.
Mahfuz is one of the last holdouts from the progressive faction of PAS leaders and members who left the party in 2015 after an internal tussle.
PAS’ former deputy president Mohamad Sabu, together with its most recognisable lawmakers, left the party in 2015 to form Amanah.
Amanah is now part of the PH alliance that also includes PKR, DAP and Bersatu.
After its annual assembly this year, PAS announced that it will form a second opposition coalition called Gagasan Sejahtera Rakyat.
The coalition is going to contest in the 14th general election against PH and the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
Ever since Bersatu was formed in 2016, rumours have circulated that Mahfuz was would join the Malay-based party which is part of PH.
This is due to his constant presence at Bersatu’s functions and his open support for Bersatu deputy president and former Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir.
Mahfuz stood by Mukhriz, when the latter was ousted as Kedah menteri besar under the current Barisan Nasional state government in 2016.
Mahfuz has also been seen at Amanah events.
In November, another pro-PH Kedah PAS leader, Amiruddin Hamzah, joined Bersatu.
Amiruddin, who is Anak Bukit state assemblman, said he decided to leave after PAS said it would be impossible to work with PH.