Anwar's letter re-energises bid to resume talks with PAS

The issue of resuming talks with PAS is expected to be raised at the next PKR politburo meeting, following a letter from prison by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, in which he reiterated his stance on keeping the door open to PAS.

Amongst the leaders who are mulling to raise the matter is PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin.

"I'm one of the members of the (central leadership) council, so maybe I will raise it if no one does," she told Malaysiakini when contacted.

Zuraida said this may also be raised at the Pakatan Harapan level but it would first have to go through the PKR leadership.

The talks with PAS to date was largely spearheaded by PKR.

"We will bring it to the party level first. If at the party level, the political bureau says they will bring it to discuss with Pakatan Harapan, then we will bring it.

"But if they say no, (talks with PAS should) only (be) at our own party level, then we will follow that," she told Malaysiakini.

The PKR political bureau meeting last Tuesday had said it will focus on strengthening Harapan but was vague on its stance with regard to PKR's relationship with PAS.

PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil was repeatedly quizzed on the political bureau's stance on PAS but merely repeated that PKR will strengthen Harapan.

The vague position came a day after the Harapan presidential council, which included PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, declared that the coalition will not work with PAS.

The Harapan presidential council's position had put proponents of talks with PAS on the defensive with PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, a key figure in the informal negotiations, taking to Twitter and noting that it was "dark times".

However, Anwar's letter has re-energised the pro-PAS talks group which in the last week had taken a beating from those who were against the negotiations as fissures within PKR came to fore.

Apart from a lengthy essay from PKR vice president Rafizi Ramli voicing against the negotiations with PAS, Selayang MP William Leong had also resigned from the PKR political bureau in protest.

Following Anwar's letter yesterday, Azmin declared that he was vindicated.

Anwar in his letter noted that there were concerns the negotiations could delay Harapan's electoral preparations but said this all the more meant that PKR needed to stand united and move swiftly.

Zuraida noted that Harapan's decision on Monday not to cooperate with PAS was made before Anwar's letter.

"Probably with this letter, we will try to bring to Harapan again and let them see. In view of the letter, they might consider discussing it again.

"But if they don't want to discuss and the decision is final then we will take it as final," she said.

'Keep discussions internal'

Zuraida urged the party to discuss the matter internally and for leaders not to air their grouses in the media.

"They should at least bring it to the political bureau meeting to discuss and find a solution instead of bringing it to the media and not coming to the meeting.

"Let's all be gentlemen, come sit in a meeting and discuss it once and for all, that's it," she said.

The Ampang MP refused to say who she was referring to but it is widely known that Rafizi had been absent from the political bureau meetings for over a year, citing the bureau's inability to make effective decisions.

"I don't know. For me, I also have differences with decisions in the political bureau but it's my duty to come to the meeting and discuss it.

"And if the decision in the meeting is as such, I have to follow even though I don't like it personally. We have to have that organisational discipline," said Zuraida.

Meanwhile, PKR vice president Tian Chua, when asked about Anwar's letter, stuck with the politburo's official statement last week that the party will continue to strengthen Harapan.

"At the same time, if PAS is willing to talk to us and cooperate, we will continue to welcome and continue our engagement to minimise the risk of facing multiple-cornered fights," he said.

"If there is sincerity in PAS, then we will see some results. When there are results, we will report to Harapan and say PAS is willing to concede some of the seat arrangements.

"But as it stands, we have not been able to report anything yet," he said, citing PAS' decision to cut ties with PKR.

'We don't need to slaughter each other'

Formulating ties with PAS, the Batu lawmaker explained, does not need the Islamist party to be in a formal coalition with Harapan.

"As long as we can have some kind of seat arrangement, that's okay. We have decided we are not going to have any (formal) cooperation with PAS, that is clear.

"But that doesn't mean we need to slaughter each other and make sure PAS loses in Kelantan, Terengganu while PAS makes sure we lose in Selangor. To whose advantage are we doing that for?"

Meanwhile, PKR Youth deputy chief Afif Bahardin said PKR can still act as facilitator even if Harapan did not want to negotiate with PAS.

"If PKR can get everyone to come together, especially PAS, then I think there's no problem with PKR talking to PAS," he said.

He added that any developments on this front would be reported to the PKR central leadership and political bureau.

Afif likened PKR's attempt to send out feelers to PAS to Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad's engagement of Persatuan Hindraf Malaysia (PHM), which was not officially endorsed by Harapan.

He stressed that PKR did not view PAS as the enemy despite what "PAS has done to us".

"PKR is what people would call a highly patient person," he said.

Afif also warned that Harapan as a coalition may not survive if it suffers heavy losses due to multi-cornered fights.

"If PKR doesn't win the election because of three-cornered fights, and other Harapan parties also lose, do you think Harapan would still exist?" he said.

He also dismissed the insistence on setting a time frame for negotiations with PAS, stressing that there was simply no way to know when the election will be called.

"Only Najib, Allah and (prime minister's wife) Rosmah (Mansor) know (when the election will be called)," he said.

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