July 17, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — Despite warm and strong ties, DAP ity chief Tony Pua has suggested his party pull out from the three-year-old Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact, ostensibly over a spat with ally PAS’ state-enforced entertainment ban in Kedah during the Muslim fasting month.
DAP leaders discussed the issue at a national leadership retreat yesterday, in what could be a repeat of the momentous split between the secular party and Islamist PAS in 2001 when both first joined forces under the short-lived Barisan Alternatif (BA) to counter the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Pua (picture) aired the matter in a Twitter post yesterday, saying he “is of the view that we shouldn’t be part of a coalition if our concerns are not heard or heeded. Don’t want to become like MCA or Gerakan in BN.”
Contacted by The Malaysian Insider, Pua declined at first to elaborate on his tweet except to say it was his personal opinion and not the party’s official position.
But he admitted that the subject of cutting off ties with its political allies had been raised at the party’s retreat in Seremban and will be discussed further when the PR leadership meets on Tuesday for its strategy session.
He also played coy when asked to elaborate if he was upset over the Kedah ban or if it was a build-up of frustration of working with PAS, posting a smiley icon of an angel with its eyes closed in the Blackberry messenger chat.
Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, political secretary to Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, issued a strongly-worded statement yesterday that the state government will not withdraw the ruling despite opposition, saying the government was just enforcing a 1997 law.
“Ustaz Azizan will not back down! That is his stand on this issue,” said Sanusi in the statement carried by PAS website Harakahdaily.
However, the national PAS leadership has asked the Kedah leader to explain the ban in a meeting to be held later today.
Several other social media users, however, appeared to have formed their own conclusions about DAP-PAS ties as seen in their response to Pua on both Twitter and Facebook, where the debate carried on.
Replying to Pua on Facebook, Richard Yong remarked: “YB, i know which issue u referring to.. shld stress more on team work and get the respective top leaders to deliberate on it.”
Another Facebooker, Simon Poon posted the following“but YB , how do u see the current problems surfaced at Kedah? Is the coalition going to have a joint conference as to provide a clearer guideline and picture so that the public understand well instead of just asking us to send u all to putrajaya”.
On Twitter, a user going by the name “xyplyx xyplyx” challenged: “then how DAP wan 2 rule M’sia?” prompting Pua to shoot back “whts d point? If so desperate to rule, might as well join BN. Must win w/principles. Not win at all costs juz 2 become Minister”.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP later said to The Malaysian Insider that it would not be the first time DAP has broken off ties with its political allies, in a nod to the Chinese-majority party’s withdrawal from the BA in 2001, after a similar falling out with PAS over the latter’s insistence on setting up an Islamic state in then PAS-ruled Terengganu
The DAP last locked horns with PAS in January this year over Selangor’s proposed ban on Muslims from working in premises that sell alcohol.
The Selangor government later claimed the ban was merely a guideline before withdrawing the ruling pending further study. Following that debacle, PR leaders have promised to consult each other on issues that could affect their pact which has survived three years.
DAP and PAS are in the PR pact together with PKR that was formed after the three parties won four more states and more than one-third of the federal parliament. The three parties have applied to form a coalition but the Registrar of Societies (RoS) has yet to give his nod.
PR parties received a boost in the past week after the BN government clamped down hard on the Bersih 2.0 rally calling for free and fair elections. Analysts and diplomats agreed the harsh security move cut some of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s popularity especially in the urban areas and among the middle-class, a key voting demographic in the country.
But the pact could suffer if DAP and PAS continue to bicker over the Kedah ban, several PR leaders conceded to The Malaysian Insider.