True worth of Pakatan agreement in question after Azmin’s olive branch to PAS
(MMO) – PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s unilateral move to extend an olive branch to PAS without the consent of Pakatan Harapan’s presidential council has raised questions on the function and efficacy of the opposition bloc’s formal agreement.
The document that was unveiled back in January states that member parties are prohibited from negotiating on their own with other parties outside the coalition on matters related to elections, unless the presidential council is informed ahead.
The agreement also states that member parties are forbidden from independently negotiating with other parties after elections about “any matters”, including the formation of government, without first informing the presidential council.
Malay Mail Online understands that some Pakatan Harapan leaders see Azmin’s actions as a breach of the agreement as the PKR deputy had not formally consulted the coalition before making such overtures.
“If you look from the point of the agreement agreed by three parties, the answer is that there is obviously a breach.
“One day the deputy president issues a statement, only to be countered by the party president… publicly, this is not good for PKR,” a senior party leader said on condition of anonymity.
The PKR leader was referring to PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s denial that Pakatan Harapan had extended an olive branch to PAS to join the opposition bloc.
After Pakatan Harapan’s dismal performance in the Sarawak polls, Azmin had in a statement urged PAS to join forces with PKR, DAP and Amanah to “move forward to face GE14 together ― as a team.”
PAS vice-president Datuk Mohd Amar Abdullah later reportedly rejected Azmin’s offer to work with Pakatan Harapan and in turn offered PKR to join the “third force” that was formed between PAS and Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia.
When approached on the matter, other Pakatan Harapan leaders were quick to downplay Azmin’s remarks, however, brushing it off as a knee-jerk response and a mere call from the PKR deputy to close ranks after the pact’s poor showing in Sarawak.
“I don’t think it was a breach in the sense that he did not announce it as a joint decision of the presidential council. It was a personal opinion.
“The presidential council didn’t agree on it, so (the matter) is now moot,” DAP’s Dr Ong Kian Ming told Malay Mail Online.
PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang said that it was a matter of “interpretation” as to whether Azmin’s actions went against the coalition’s formal agreement.
“Pakatan Harapan never said they don’t want PAS to come in, from the beginning they have always said door is open to PAS.
“Was it a breach? It’s a matter of interpretation,” he told Malay Mail Online.
Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub similarly dismissed Azmin’s remarks as a “knee-jerk response” to the Sarawak election.
“Azmin just threw the idea to PAS. It is not a serious and official statement, I think he just threw the idea, knee-jerk response to the Sarawak election.
“But I strongly believe that any decision, whether to call for unity among the opposition must be made by Pakatan Harapan collectively,” he said.
Political analyst Dr Oh Ei Sun said that Azmin was trying to portray himself as a leader capable of working with many sides including Pakatan Harapan’s “supposed” enemy PAS, and that this will supposedly burnish the PKR man’s prime ministerial credentials for the near future.
“I don’t think he has his party’s authorization to make such a gesture,” the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies senior fellow said, referring to the Selangor mentri besar’s invitation to PAS.