Tuesday, April 1, 2008

people's pact: It's official. It's historical. Opposition forms coalition to pose stronger challenge to govt

It's official. It's historical. Opposition forms coalition
• Era of 2-party system on the way
• See 3-party news release here
• Key meeting on April 27
• Kit Siang: "Its the next logical step after the March 8 political tsunami."
KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 -- It's been floating around for some time now and Anwar Ibrahim has spoken about it to various media, but today it is official, he announced at a news conference that Malaysia's opposition parties have agreed to enter into a formal coalition, called Pakatan Rakyat (People's Pact).
The de facto leader of the opposition, whose wife Dr Wan Azizah will be the formal Leader of the Opposition in parliament, said the move to have a formal coalition is to present the parties as a credible alternative to the present ruling government coalition, Barisan Nasional.A convention of all Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives of Parliament and State Assemblies will be held the 27th of April, 2008
This ushers in the era of a two-party system into Malaysian politics for the first time in its history.
The PKR-PAS-DAP group has proposed strengthening ties by forming Pakatan Rakyat, pending the agreement of the respective parties, said Anwar.
He dismissed the long-held position of Parti Islam SeMalaysia, or PAS, on making Malaysia an Islamic state as non-issue. Malaysia's opposition has been divided for many years on separate philosophies, with two parties , PKR and DAP appealing mainly to urban, liberal voters and Islamist PAS attracting mainly rural votes.The 3 parties have tried before to form a coalition with a single policy platform, during an election campaign in 1999, calling themselves the Barisan Alternatif. But the pact fell apart two years later over the issue PAS's call for the creation of an Islamic state.Anwar said the parties were still working on a common policy platform, and detailed policy steps would be hammered out at a meeting of parliamentary and state assembly deputies of all 3 parties on April 27. He insisted that PAS's stand on an Islamic state would not sink the new alliance.
"It is not an issue as far as we are concerned," he said, flanked by leaders of both PAS and the DAP.DAP leader Lim Kit Siang said: "It's the next logical step after the March 8 political tsunami in order to bring about the changes that people want. This is a response to the clear and unmistakeable message from the people who voted on March 8, they want change, justice, freedom and fairness."He added that "the April 27 meeting is for the elected lawmakers to get to know each other". -- [themalaysianinsider.com]

Malaysian opposition forms pact after poll gains
KUALA LUMPUR, April 1, 2008 (AFP) - Malaysia's three opposition parties announced Tuesday a strategic alliance after humbling the ruling coalition with unprecedented gains in last month's elections.
The parties, rallied by former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, claimed more than a third of parliamentary seats and five of the 13 states in the March 8 polls that handed the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition its worst electoral result since 1969.
"In today's meeting, we have proposed to consolidate the cooperation between the three parties under the name 'Pakatan Rakyat' (People's Front)," Anwar said.
The rare meeting was attended by leaders from the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP), Keadilan and the conservative Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). The three parties hold 82 seats in the new 22-seat parliament.
Anwar, who is Keadilan's advisor said a previous PAS plan for the formation of an Islamic state was no longer an issue.
"We never raised the issue of an Islamic state (in the meeting). I must reiterate that this issue had not cropped up in PAS manifesto," he said.
PAS chief Abdul Hadi Awang said the party would not take any action that would create anxiety among Malaysia's multi-racial society.
"PAS is an Islamic party. But we have a common ideology and that is we will fight for justice, we oppose corruption and promote human rights," he said.
PAS had previously advocated an Islamic state but dropped the controversial issue in its 2008 election manifesto.
A loose alliance by DAP, Keadilan and PAS failed to topple the government in 1999 after Chinese voters rejected the opposition for fear of a PAS Islamic agenda.
DAP chairman Lim Kit Siang said the alliance was a "logical step forward" following the opposition's stunning gains.
"The people have voted for change from the verdict of the March 8 polls and it is not for an Islamic state or (sharia) hudud laws," he said.
"Malaysians want justice, transparency and good governance. In that basis we are coming together," Lim added.
Anwar said the alliance would uphold the rights and interests of all Malaysians, regardless of religion or race.
The front will meet on April 27 to decide on the strategies it should adopt, he said.
"This coalition will work and we will disappoint the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. There are no junior and senior partners among us," Anwar said.
Source: AFP via Yahoo! News - http://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/afp/20080401/tap-malaysia-politics-opposition-0193655_1.html

Malaysia's opposition parties form formal coalition to pose stronger challenge to government
By JULIA ZAPPEI,Associated Press Writer
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysia's three ideologically diverse opposition parties formed a formal coalition Tuesday after their unofficial partnership made spectacular gains against the ruling party in recent elections.The People's Alliance, an unlikely coalition of three parties _ Islamic, multiethnic and Chinese-based _ have agreed to "uphold the rights and interests of all Malaysians," said de facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
"We are committed to the reform program ... respecting basic human rights, the principle of justice, freedom of expression and also on the Malaysian economic agenda for all," he said.
Anwar's multiethnic People's Justice Party collaborated with the secular Chinese-based Democratic Action Party and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party during the March 8 general elections. By putting up a common candidate in each constituency, the three parties avoided multi-cornered contests that had divided opposition votes in the past.
As a result, the opposition parties denied the ruling National Front coalition its traditional two-thirds parliamentary majority and increased their share from 19 to 82 seats in parliament. The National Front also lost in five of 13 states, where the opposition parties have now formed governments.
"The people would like to see the three parties work together to bring change," said Lim Kit Siang of the Democratic Action Party. "This is a new political reality."
The three parties say they are equal partners and there is no leader.
Their biggest challenge was to bring the Democratic Action Party under one roof with the Islamic party, which draws its support from conservative Malays and whose stated goal has been to set up an Islamic state.
The three parties' leaders said they would work together to achieve their shared goals of justice, democracy and good governance. One of their biggest election promises was to fight corruption.
"A common stance is a priority ... Whatever (Islamic laws) we can implement, we will implement. But we will respect the other religions as well," said Abdul Hadi Awang, president of the Islamic party.
The multiethnic alliance also hopes to end the racial tensions that have flared up recently. Ethnic Chinese and Indians, who make up a third of the country's 27 million people, have complained that the government discriminates against them in favor of the majority Muslim Malays.
Source: AP via Yahoo! News - http://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/ap/20080401/tap-as-gen-malaysia-opposition-b3c65ae_1.html

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