MALAYSIA: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia, has indicated that he is not ruling out the possibility of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) joining a political alliance within his Unity Government.
During an interview with the American-based news magazine Time in mid-September, the president of PKR and chairman of Pakatan Harapan disclosed that the government had extended an invitation to the hardline Islamist party in this regard.
Anwar emphasized his openness to the idea from the outset, stating that this unity government prioritizes the nation’s best interests.
However, he underscored the necessity of setting boundaries to safeguard the rights of all citizens in the country.
“Yes, I have been open to the idea from the beginning. After all, this is a unity government and we do what is best for our country.
But of course, we are going to draw a line. Islam is the religion of the Federation, but this is a multireligious country and I want every single citizen in this country, of all religious persuasions, to know that they have a place in this country,” he said.
“No one should be discriminated, marginalized, or ignored.”
Anwar highlights PAS’s ambiguous response to the invitation
Anwar, however, clarified that Pas had neither expressly rejected nor positively responded to the invitation.
He also remained open to the possibility of Pas accepting the offer to join the unity government, stating that the current political climate needed some time to cool off.
“I don’t want to preclude that. Of course, contingent upon these major policy conditions being accepted.”
Under the leadership of its president, Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS is presently one of the parties within the Islamist opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN).
Malaysia faced the impasse of the hung parliament following the conclusion of the GE15 in November last year.
Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition secured 82 parliamentary seats, while the Perikatan National (PN) led by former PM Muhyiddin Yassin acquired 73 seats. Both coalitions fell short of the simple majority of 112 seats.
As none of the major political coalitions achieved a simple majority, PH, BN (30 seats), along with coalitions in Sabah and Sarawak — GPS (23 seats), GRS (6 seats ) and Warisan (3 seats) agreed to form a unity government, adhered to Malaysia King’s decree.
Significantly, PAS secured 43 Parliamentary seats compared to Bersatu’s 31, indicating its substantial influence within the PN and Malaysian political landscape.
In the recently concluded Six-State Election in August, PAS adeptly defended its state governments in Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu in Northern Malaysia.
Addresses rising Malay-Islamist supremacist rhetoric in Malaysia
To counter the rising Malay-Islamist supremacist rhetoric, the Prime Minister Anwar outlined a comprehensive strategy.
Firstly, he emphasized the importance of a more just and equitable system to prevent the marginalization of any community within the country.
Secondly, Anwar highlighted the significance of education in curbing extremism and fostering understanding among the population.
He emphasized the need to address the narrow and often misleading interpretations propagated by certain religious figures.
His third strategy centred on emphasizing Malaysia’s multicultural identity despite being predominantly Muslim.
Anwar emphasized the peaceful coexistence of different faiths in the country’s history and emphasized the need to preserve this harmony.
“And we have survived hundreds of years with the presence of Buddhists, Hindus, and Christians. There is no reason why you should upset this and cause enmity,” he added.
When asked about his aspirations for his “Reformasi” ideals, Anwar emphasized the criticality of addressing governance issues.
He emphasized the necessity of combating systemic corruption and ensuring transparency in tender processes, noting significant changes in these areas during his tenure.
Anwar also pointed out the establishment of select committees in Parliament to tackle corruption, empowering them to summon and question any minister or civil servant.
He emphasized non-interference in the judiciary, highlighting that he had not influenced any judicial appointments or decisions.
“In the judiciary, there is not one case of appointments or decisions that I’ve interfered with,” added Anwar.
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