PKR-PAS marriage on the rocks

The war drums are growing louder and the PAS muktamar next month may be the death knell for ties between PAS and PKR.

Joceline Tan, The Star

DATUK Seri Azmin Ali is a terribly composed person. He does not wear his emotions on his sleeve nor does he open his mouth without thinking.

But the mask slipped briefly last week when he let go a Donald Trump-style tweet hitting out at a tok lebai – the kampung slang for a holy man – who wants to take over Selangor but has tripped in his own constituency.

The Selangor Mentri Besar was returning fire at PAS Youth chief Nik Abduh Nik Aziz who had earlier declared that his party plans to take over Selangor.

The sting in the tweet was to tell Nik Abduh not to dream of Selangor when he could not even win in his own Pengkalan Chepa division polls.

A day later, Azmin updated his social media profile with a photo of himself in a white jubah and kopiah. The message was that the tok lebai image is not exclusive to PAS.

Within hours, several of his boys like Dr Afif Bahaudin, Najwan Halimi and Amirudin Shari followed suit on their Twitter accounts.

The PAS grassroots have since fired back at Azmin, reminding him that he is the Mentri Besar thanks to the support of the tok lebai group in PAS.

The ties between PKR and PAS has often been described as a case of nikah gantung – a marriage that has not been consummated. In other words, their relationship is halal or above board but they have not, well, gone all the way.

Azmin, who is also PKR deputy president, tends to be rather sensitive about his hold on Selangor. He is also getting irritated at what he views as veiled threats by PAS leaders about his Mentri Besar post and his Gombak parliamentary seat where PAS has a lot of members.

He is also bracing for the possibility that the PAS muktamar next month may decide to terminate ties between their two parties.

The PAS division AGMs began last week and the war drums are getting louder. This is a party election year for PAS but no one is talking about the election at all. It has been such a contrast to the last party election which almost burnt the house down.

Instead, as vice-president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah admitted, the election has been eclipsed by the debate over ties with PKR.

“PKR is the hot topic. I don’t hear anyone talking about the party election,” he said.

In fact, party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man are set to be returned unopposed.

During the last PAS election, the enemy was within and the arrows were flying within the party’s four walls. This time around, the arrows are aimed outwards at Amanah and DAP.

Some PAS leaders dislike Amanah so much that they persist in referring to it as PAN (Parti Amanah Nasional).

They claim the splinter party does not deserve such a trustworthy name although some say it is because PAN sounds like a slang word for a private part of the anatomy. That is how deep the rivalry goes.

But how did PKR turn from friend to foe?

According to PAS communications chief Roslan Shahir, the sentiments began after the Sungai Besar by-election which saw PKR leaders campaigning for Amanah. The PAS grassroots also felt betrayed that Azmin declared support for the Amanah candidate.

But the deepest cut came from PKR leaders like vice-president Rafizi Ramli and Datuk Saifuddin Nasution who declared that Kelantan would fall when they spoke on the Amanah stage.

That really upset PAS leaders because Kelantan is their serambi Mecca, their verandah of Mecca. The party would be nothing without Kelantan.

The calls for PAS to end ties with PKR will probably reach a crescendo at the muktamar which starts in Alor Setar on April 28. Several PAS division AGMs have passed resolutions to that effect.

The first of such moves struck at the very heart of PKR, namely, Permatang Pauh where Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is the MP.

The Permatang Pauh PAS division passed a resolution to sever ties with PKR. It also announced that it would contest the parliamentary as well as the three state seats in the constituency.

Two of the state seats, Seberang Jaya and Penanti, are held by PKR while Permatang Pasir is a PAS stronghold. Dr Wan Azizah can survive in a multi-cornered fight but the two PKR state seats could be in danger.

Hadi has tried to boost the morale of party members with the battle cry that PAS can win 40 parliamentary seats and take Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perak and Selangor. It was music to the ears of PAS members because everyone loves a beautiful fairy tale.

In the post-2008 years, the opening day of the muktamar would find an array of DAP and PKR leaders attending in a show of solidarity. But their presence grew less and less with each passing year.

In 2015, Azmin was the only VIP guest and he was greeted by applause as he was ushered to the stage to sit beside the top PAS leaders.

Azmin skipped last year’s muktamar in Kota Baru because of the Sungai Besar by-election. PKR sent their assemblyman for Guchil, Mohd Roslan Puteh, whom PAS regards as a nobody.

It is anybody’s guess whether PKR will make a token appearance this year given that the love affair is over and that the marriage may never be consummated.

The big question is what will happen to the Selangor government if the divorce goes through?