Opposition ready for 'one-to-one' election fight: PKR
Photo: Azmin Ali is deputy president of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), a member of the Opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat. (Wikipedia)
Prominent Malaysian leader Azmin Ali says the Opposition coalition is focused on working together to face the ruling Barisan Nasional Party in a 'one-to-one' election battle.Formal campaigning began on Saturday, with 1,900 candidates filing nomination papers to contest state and federal seats in the May 5 poll.
The Opposition surprised many when two of its parties - Anwar Ibrahim's PKR Justice party and the Islamic PAS - both fielded candidates in seven seats.
But Azmin Ali, the deputy president of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), has told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific the seat allocation issues have now been resolved, and the Opposition's main goal is 'election winnability'.
ALI: We believe that this is a very important election for all Malaysians and PAS, Keadilan did face some initial problems of seat allocations, but we managed to resolve these issues amicably today, and we'll maintain a straight fight on the principle of one-to-one, with the Barisan Nasional in the coming general election. So the issue's settled, and we will focus our machinery to face Barisan Nasional in the coming election. And as I said earlier, we managed to resolve this matter and will focus on working together as a team to face UMNO and Barisan Nasional.
LAM: So of the seven seats that were being contested, are you saying PKR is conceding some to PAS and vice versa, and you're not jointly running against each other in the seven seats?
ALI: No, certainly not. We're not conceding but we believe the main factor of this election is winnability. We have decided to pull out from the race in some areas, where we believe PAS has offered a much stronger candidate. For other seats, PAS has decided to pull their candidate, so now we maintain one-to-one fight with UMNO and Barisan Nasional. We have made a public statement today that PAS and Keadilan will work together as a team and we'll support PAS candidates in those areas that we have decided to allow them to contest, and PAS has decided to support our candidates in those areas that they have conceded to Keadilan.
LAM: Of the seven seats involved on peninsular Malaysia, how many will be run by PAS and how many contested by PKR?
ALI: Well, three will be by PAS in Trengganu, which is Kota Putera, Bukit Besi and Seberang Takir. And the other four will be contested by Keadilan.
LAM: If PKR and PAS can't even agree on nomination, how will it work together, if it gets parliament - surely this sends a bad message to your supporters, that even at this early stage, Pakatan Rakyat's member parties are not on the same page?
ALI: Well, in any form of relationship or coalition, certainly we're bound to have some issues that we need to address. But the strength of Pakatan Rakyat here is that we will allow our leadership to continue the negotiations, and we will work on the basis of consensus. I think that is the strength of Pakatan Rakyat. We may have differences, but we sit down and we discuss openly and in the interest of the nationa and the people, we are able to resolve this matter amicably. So the message we want to send to the people is that the strength of Pakatan Rakyat, between PAS, Keadilan and DAP and the ability of the leadership to discuss, to sit down and finally to work on consensus. I think that is the very important message we want to send to the people of Malaysia.
LAM: The third component of Pakatan Rakyat, the DAP (Democratic Action Party) also had its share of dramas, with the Registrar of Societies (R-O-S) last week ruling that it did not recognise the DAP central committee - can you give us an update of the situation?
ALI: Well, I was informed that R-O-S has made a U-turn at the eleventh hour before the nomination, and now they allow the DAP to use their logo and symbol on the ballot paper. And this again shows how desperate the present government (BN) government is, under the leadership of Najib Razak - the culture of intimidation and harassment against the opposition parties. So I think that will strengthen our position in Pakatan Rakyat, to get the support of the people, that they must change (government) in this coming election, for a better Malaysia in the future.
LAM: Are you suggesting that the BN and UMNO had a hand in what the Registrar of Societies did last week?
ALI: Well, that is the perception among the public now in Malaysia - that there is a hidden agenda behind this (R-O-S) decision, but because of the pressure of the people, they have decided to make a U-turn at the last minute.
LAM: What do you make of the large number of independents running for all the seats - is that a sign that there are people very disillusioned with the two main coalitions?
ALI: Well, in a way, it is good that it shows that we allow individuals to participate in this democratic process in Malaysia. But at the same time now, the voters in Malaysia are mature enough to choose and to defend a two-party system - so I don't think the independents will make a major impact in the coming general election.
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