Amanah puts Azmin in local council quandary

SELANGOR Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (pic) seems to have things under
control after a rocky spell in the first year since he’s assumed

Having prevented the state administration from imploding following the
Pakatan Rakyat split, appeasing PAS despite it being alienated from
the new Pakatan Harapan pact, not to mention recently adding a
‘datukship’ to his name, the PKR deputy president has many reasons to

Unfortunately, as he must surely know, things do not remain rosy for
very long in a high-stakes job.

Azmin now faces yet another test in keeping the already fragile
Opposition rule in Selangor intact. This time, it is a tussle over the
allocation of local council seats for the upcoming term beginning Jan

PKR had generously agreed in September last year to let go of 17
seats, 11 of which were given to PAS and six to DAP. There are a total
of 288 local council seats in Selangor.

Meaning that under the revised allocation, PKR would have 103 seats,
DAP 98, while PAS would get 78. The remaining nine seats are reserved
for the Orang Besar Daerah.

That was it, the agreement appeared done and dusted, and Azmin could
go back to smiling again.

Just one tiny problem, though.

Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), the splinter group of PAS which was
officially launched around the same time the revised allocation of
seats were agreed, had not been factored in at that point.

The formation of a new federal opposition pact in November, sans PAS,
provided further complexities as Selangor suddenly became a ‘Pakatan
Harapan+1’ government.

As the pact’s newest member, Amanah is now seeking greater influence
in the state administration, and demanding for its own representation
in each of the 12 local councils.

The question is - which party would be willing to sacrifice to
accommodate Amanah. None of them from the looks of it, putting the
mentri besar in a quandary.

At a recent state executive council meeting, Azmin made a clear stand
to all parties - PKR, DAP, and PAS - that Amanah councillors would
need to be fitted in somehow.

The party is said to be requesting for 24 seats, which isn’t even 10%
of the total allocation. But even then, it appears to be a tough task.

Leaders from PKR, DAP and PAS are not backing down and have continued
to speak out in defence of their respective allocations.

PAS, for one, will not be caught dead giving up a portion to its
disgruntled ex-members’ party, mostly because it would be a major
‘lose face’ moment for them.

PKR technically could, as it has the most number of seats. But they’ve
already conceded 17, and asking them to let go of more would be
‘pushing it’, to say the least.

So that leaves DAP. They wouldn’t be losing much if they could, for
starters, hand the six extra seats they received from PKR over to

However, DAP is unlikely to relent if PAS doesn’t lose some seats in
the process as well. Given existing hostilities between the two, I
don’t expect DAP to do its former ally any favours even if they do
happen to run a government together.

Azmin has an uphill challenge ahead of him, especially when it comes
to convincing PAS because it is no longer bound by the Opposition
pact’s common framework policy.

The Pakatan Harapan parties may eventually reach an agreement on the
issue based on consensus, but PAS is now a standalone entity and is
free to make decisions as it sees fit.

This is not so much a problem at the federal level, but at state
level, deliberations on any future policies or issues are set to be
complicated further by PAS’ unique position.

Azmin, who has long been on friendly terms with the Islamist party,
risks burning bridges if he sides with Pakatan Harapan and Amanah on
the local council issue.

He could even be risking his own position as Mentri Besar, if it is to
be believed that the only reason he’s still in power is because of
PAS’ support for him. They were, after all, the only party to openly
support his candidacy for the post back in 2014.

Perhaps this is why Azmin was first to suggest back in November that
the formation of Pakatan Harapan would not affect PAS’ role in the
state administration.

If he had it his way, the Islamist party would be part of the
opposition coalition and the state government would be running a lot

For now though, that doesn’t look to be the case, while the task of
managing the political composition in the Selangor government is
getting trickier by the day.

A fallout with PAS, which holds 15 seats in the 56-seat state
assembly, could send it right into Barisan Nasional’s arms - not
something Azmin and gang would be ecstatic about, that’s for sure.

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