Malaysian opposition forges alliance

April 2nd, 2008 - 5:41 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 2 (IANS) Malaysia’s opposition parties have formed “Pakatan Rakyat”, or Peoples’ Alliance, after winning 82 seats in parliament and control of five states in last month’s general elections. Their common policy will be reflected in the running of the state governments of Kedah, Kelantan, Perak, Selangor and Penang states, leaders of Parti Keadalan Rakyat (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) said here Tuesday.

Flanked by DAP chief Lim Kit Siang and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, PKR’s advisor and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim said the coalition pledged “to uphold the rights and interests of all Malaysians, regardless of religion or race as enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” The Sun newspaper said.

Ibrahim said to ensure they are all on the same wavelength as far as these policies are concerned, a convention of all PR Members of Parliament (MPs) and state assemblypersons would be held April 27.

Anwar said a leadership council will be set up, consisting of the leaders of the three parties and a joint secretariat consisting of three leaders from each party.

He said the name of “Pakatan Rakyat” was proposed pending confirmation by the respective parties.

Asked which party would play a dominant role in the coalition, Anwar said: “The dominant party is the people.

“Now I am a chair (of the coalition). But there is an understanding that we are equally represented, with equal chance to be heard and resolve (issues) on the basic of consensus,” he said.

This is the second attempt at forming an opposition alliance in recent years.

In 1999, the three parties formed a loose coalition named Barisan Alternatif (BA) (Alternative Front) to take on Barisan Nasional (BN) in the then general election.

However, DAP left the coalition two years later due to its fundamental disagreement with PAS over the latter’s stance in forming an Islamic state.

Asked how the coalition could work together given the difference in ideologies especially between DAP and PAS, Anwar said the three parties have agreed to work together “on a broader principle such as defending human rights and justice for all Malaysians”.

Ibrahim said the people had sent a very strong message in the just-concluded general election that they wanted change.

“The people support the pledge of the three parties to bring about accountability, transparency, justice and good governance. In response to the very clear mandate and wishes of the people, this is a new political reality we have to address.

“The March 8 political tsunami is very clear that the people would like to see the three parties work together to bring about change. The area of change they want to see is justice, freedom and good governance and not for Islamic state or Hudud Law,” said Ibrahim.

Lim said the coalition now could “learn the lesson” from the early attempt to set up a multi-racial front and be able to work together on the common principles.

On the same note, Abdul Hadi said the coalition has to respect the signal sent by the people in the general election.

When quizzed whether PAS would abandon his stand in setting up an Islamic state, Hadi appeared evasive.

“This issue should not be played up out of proportion which would cause anxiety …The most important thing is the objective and the practical (work) of a government, not the name of it,” he said.

Pressed further, Hadi said the Islamic state was not stated in the party’s constitution.

Ibrahim said the media should not harp on the issue and “give us a chance to prove that this coalition can work together”.

The parliamentary opposition that accused the bulk of the country’s media as being pro-BN during the campaign said it would launch its own newspaper, according to a report in The Oriental Daily News.

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