MOHAMED Azmin Ali’s reluctance to replace Pakatan Rakyat (PR) with Pakatan Harapan (PH) in Selangor boils down to his hope to avoid three-cornered fights which could hurt PKR badly in the coming polls.
During a closed-door meeting with some 20 assemblymen from Selangor on Thursday evening, the Selangor Menteri Besar explained why he wants to maintain the now almost defunct PR.
Sources who attended the last-minute meeting on Thursday, told The Malaysian Insight that Azmin wants to keep the communication channels open with PAS to avoid three-cornered battles in the state in the event of a general election.
“He said that DAP will be the least affected as most of their seats are in the urban areas.
“But PKR will stand to lose the most if there are three-cornered fights in Selangor. Most of PKR’s seats are semi-urban or rural,” a source told The Malaysian Insight.
Azmin, who is also the PKR deputy president explained that his concerns were not limited to the federal level as he had to also consider the implications to PKR in the event of a fallout with PAS.
When asked how Azmin planned to tackle the PAS problem in Selangor, the source said: “He just wants to keep the channels open so that there is room for discussion.
“And until a compromise can be reached with PAS on this, we should all try to win over the PAS grassroots.”
Previously, PAS Selangor said that it wants to contest 45 seats in Selangor at the next elections.
The source added that Azmin also did not say how he planned to address Amanah and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (Bersatu) concerns except to say he will try and help them gain more seats to contest in.
Amanah Selangor had urged Azmin to stop wooing PAS to form an electoral pact in Selangor before he surprised everyone on Wednesday by declaring PR still exists in in the state despite PAS’ pullout from PR and the setting up of PH at the national level.
Following his statement, several DAP leaders like Lim Kit Siang and Tony Pua took to social media to criticise Azmin’s announcement on the issue.
Slim majority PKR seats hang in the balance
On the sidelines of an event on Thursday, a PKR assemblyman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Malaysian Insight why Azmin had to tread carefully on the PR/PH issue in Selangor.
“Take my seat for instance. I only won with a few thousand votes during GE13. If PAS were to turn against us, my majority will drop to the hundreds.
“And if BN were to crank it up at the last minute, I can even lose my seat,” he added.
Of the 13 state seats PKR has in Selangor, five seats had slim majorities of less than five percent margins – Ijok (51.3%), Taman Medan (53.9%), Kota Anggerik (54%), Batu Tiga (54.1%) and Batu Caves (55%).
Other than Ijok (48% Malays), all the other four seats have between 60% and 70% Malay voters.
Similarly, Mentri Besar Azmin’s Bukit Antarabangsa and executive councillor Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad’s Sri Setia seats also hang in the balance with a just 6.4% and 6.2% margins of victory. Bukit Antarabangsa has 56% Malay voters while Sri Setia has 51%.
So, if PAS was to split these seats with three-cornered fights, PKR could easily lose these tightly won contests.
PR is a GE13 mandate
Another insider said that Azmin told the assemblymen from Amanah, DAP and PKR that he was merely honouring the voters’ wishes for PR to continue ruling in Selangor.
“He told us that PR was given the mandate during GE13 to govern Selangor. And that’s what he wants to do until the next GE,” said the insider.
On working with PAS, the insider said Azmin was hopeful that PAS Selangor was different and that a compromise to avoid three-cornered fights is still possible.
“He believes that PAS Selangor is independent enough and have their own stand, responsibilities and ambitions. Azmin said it’s a fact that the only winners in a three-cornered fight is Barisan Nasional,” said the insider.
The meeting, which started at 5pm, lasted almost two hours.
Among those who attended the meeting were excos Elizabeth Wong, Amirudin Shari, V Ganabatirau and Teng Chang Khim and assemblymen Ng Suee Lim, Saari Sungib, Dr Idris Ijok, Gan Pei Nei, Yeo Bee Yin, Lee Kee Hiong, Rodziah Ismail, Ng Sze Han, Hasnul Baharuddin, Tiew Way Keng, Lee Nyuk Lan, Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, Hannah Yeoh and Shuhaimi Shafiei.