Defections won’t undermine Pakatan allies’ roles

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders appear confident with the prospect of more defections, saying the relationship between the coalition has gone beyond just the national leadership that led to its historic wins in Election 2008.

Bayan Baru MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohd Hashim quit PKR in a huff last Friday and there is growing speculation that more will follow his footstep. PR and PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will return to Penang today to assure the grassroots that an exodus will not happen and PKR remains strong.

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar however maintained that defections of PR lawmakers will not change the way the coalition operates.

“It will be the same, in our decision making process we decide based on consensus, there is no such thing as reducing the role of any party,” Mahfuz told The Malaysian Insider when asked if defections of more PKR MPs would affect the party’s influence in the three-party coalition.

Public disagreements among PR leaders over various issues, has occurred several times since Election 2008, most notably the attempt by PAS leadership in Selangor to ban the sale of alcohol of Muslim majority areas which was opposed by DAP.

That issue was resolved following the intervention of Anwar. Zahrain, who was close to Anwar, however quit after a spat with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng over a public tender award where he accused the DAP secretary-general of being a “dictator, a chauvinist and communist-minded”.

“There will be no problem for Pakatan if the number of MPs are reduced, no one party can dominate Pakatan, and Pas has always been generous towards its political partners,” said Mahfuz.

He added that the current crisis faced by PKR would strengthen the party in the long term.

“I don’t see how the attacks will weaken PKR or Pakatan, this is a cleansing process for us,” said Mahfuz.

Zahrain’s move to be an Independent last week has reduced PKR to just 30 MPs, while DAP has 28 and Pas 23.

Barisan Nasional (BN) now controls 137 seats, Sabah-based SAPP, two and Independents, two.

Five more PKR MPs is said to be planning to leave the party, which would reduce the party’s dominance in PR.

“Pas had gone through the same experience, our past leaders, (former president) Datuk Asri Muda then (former vice-president) Nakhaie Ahmad left the us, but it did not stop the party from moving forward,” said Mahfuz.

Since Election 2008, five PKR assemblymen have quit the party. The first PKR federal lawmakaer to quit, Zahrain announced his decision on Friday, citing disappointment with the party and a loss of faith with Opposition Leader Anwar.

DAP’s Liew Chin Tong said the issue of how the role of the parties in PR would be affected by the defections as a “pre-March 8 question”.

“Before March 8, the role of Anwar was to bring the parties together, but now direct cooperation has been established, secondly Anwar also started speaking across racial lines, speaking on same issues to every racial group, but now you can see that Nizar has been doing it, and Lim Guan Eng too,” said the Bukit Bendera MP.

“Now those who support Pakatan, want to see Pakatan as a team contesting against BN,” Liew told The Malaysian Insider.

Malaysian Insider

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