DAP and Pas progressives seeking new alliance in Johor

Nikita Nawawi
Written by Nikita Nawawi

KUALA LUMPUR – June 23, 2015: The quarrel between DAP and Pas leaders on the national level does not seem to affect those who lead their parties in Johor.

Leaders of the feuding parties in Johor have apparently found an understanding which enable them to work together as opposition allies despite their differences.

Both sides agreed that the breakup of Pakatan Rakyat should not be the end of their collaboration in the state.

DAP’s Mengkibol assemblyman Tan Hong Pin when contacted said the enduring harmonious relationship between DAP and Pas in Johor was expected as there are ‘many qualities in Johor that Pas and DAP can work with together’.

“Of course we can no longer see Pas as it used to be but we will try our best to make it work in this state.

“Besides, members of the Pas progressive faction, who have friendlier relationship with DAP and PKR are actually in charge of their party here,” he said.

Tan added that Johor DAP is currently identifying Pas progressive leaders and others in the state who respect the policy framework that once formed the basis of the Pakatan coalition in order to set up a new alliance.

He told The Mole that DAP has entered a new era where the party is no longer interested in cooperating with Pas leadership now that DAP is not anymore bounded to the Pakatan alliance.

“We are only interested to cooperate with people we can work with. We may be working with Pas progressive members but we are not going to be in cahoots with (pro-ulama) Johor Pas commissioner Datuk Dr Mahfodz Mohamed,” he added.

Mahfodz, who is also the Pas Dewan Ulama chief was the one who tabled a motion for Pas to severe its ties with DAP during the party’s muktamar (annual general meeting) earlier this month.

Commenting on the opposition’s chances to end Barisan Nasional’s reign in the state in the next general election with Pas being just DAP’s no-strings-attached partner, Tan believed it is too early to tell.

“However, we are actually quite pleased of having to work only with members of the Pas progressive faction because they are the ones who were dedicated in helping DAP during the elections.

“We understand that the breakup of Pakatan would affect the voters’ confidence in us but I am still upbeat about our chances in the next general election which is less than three years from now,” he said.

On Sunday, Johor DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong was reported as saying that the state DAP is forging ahead with new political alliances by working with Pas progressives and dissidents in Umno to end the BN’s rule in the state.

He said in a statement that Johor was the crucial battleground for a political realignment and that the party’s state leadership had agreed to work with all anti-Umno political forces who are willing to subscribe to the common policy framework of the Pakatan alliance.

“We are aware the DAP would not be able to defeat Umno’s entrenched hegemony on its own. We must form alliances and coalitions with like-minded individuals and political forces,” he said.

Bakri member of parliament Er Teck Hwa said that his DAP division will comply with the order given by the party’s central and state leaderships.

“We will obey any decision made by the DAP state chairman. We will see how it (the new alliance) goes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pas’ Parit Yaani assemblyman Aminolhuda Hassan has pledged his support for state DAP assemblymen and parliamentarians.

“Most of us have known each other for a long time and although Pakatan is no longer functioning, I will continue to assist them (DAP) in any way I can,” he said.

Aminolhuda was however non-committal when asked for comments on Liew’s proposal to form new political alliances with Pas progressives.

“It seems like they (DAP) do not want to have anything to do with Mahfodz and it would be tricky for us to commit to such an alliance.

“However, Johor Pas has made it clear to the Pas central leadership prior to our muktamar that we need the support from our Pakatan allies, especially DAP.

“In my constituency alone, 42 per cent of the voters are Chinese and DAP’s assistance would definitely come in handy,” he added.

Aminolhuda is also of the opinion that even though the Malays’ allegiance towards BN in the state has been proven time and time again, the opposition still stands a chance to take over in the next general election.

“We are now looking at a serious flaw in the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration with issues concerning the frailty of economy and rising costs of living being brought forward. These issues might affect the way Malays are evaluating the current government.

“If the strain continues, the opposition in Johor might just surprise everybody,” he stated.

Former Pas vice-president Salahudin Ayub had meanwhile welcomed the proposed new alliance which should address Pas and DAP’s relationship in the state.

Salahudin who hails from Johor and one of the party’s progressive leaders described Pas-DAP relations in Johor as being the best compared to other states.

“There are many ways that can be taken to continue and strengthen the cooperation between the two parties despite the disintegration of Pakatan.

“DAP and Pas could hold joint-programs in the state such as organising charity programs during this holy month of Ramadhan. They could also set up an iftar ceremony for the needy to give back to the community,” he said.

Pakatan was dissolved after DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had announced the coalition’s demise last week.

The decision was made official after PKR president who is also opposition leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail declared that it was the end of the road for the coalition and that it is no longer functioning formally a day after Lim’s announcement.

Lim’s drastic decision was driven by the ‘ulama tsunami’ in the Pas’ election held earlier this month.

The election witnessed members of the Pas’ progressive faction being almost wiped out by their pro-ulama rivals at the polls.

The result of the election had ultimately led to the decision by Pas to consider the motion to sever ties with DAP without debate, which apparently was the last straw for DAP.



About the author

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi is an up-and-coming writer who started his involvement in the media industry serving established local English daily, before joining The Mole in October 2014 as journalist.