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Fallout from Selangor in-fighting plagues Pakatan Rakyat

Political crisis in Selangor calls into question future direction of PAS and Pakatan Rakyat's governance in the state.

MALAYSIA: The fallout over the Selangor Menteri Besar (chief minister) post continues to plague the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance in Malaysia - this comes after its Islamic party ally PAS pledged allegiance to the alliance and retracted support for Khalid Ibrahim as the head of the Selangor state government.

Fellow alliance members, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People's Justice Party or PKR) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP) want Mr Khalid gone, questioning his integrity.

The opposition three-party Pakatan Rakyat alliance has strived to present a united front to deal with the political crisis in Selangor - they have named Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) President Wan Azizah as the sole candidate for Selangor chief minister post after deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali toed the party line and turned down the nomination by Islamic party PAS.

Mohamad Sabu, deputy president of PAS, said that he respected Azmin's decision. However, Azmin's declination was an embarrassment to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who had openly rejected a female candidate for the post.

Analysts said the crisis has called into question the future direction of PAS. Ibrahim Suffian, a political analyst with the Merdeka Centre, said: "It's a question they have been putting off for decades - whether they just want to be a party for the Muslims or a party for all Malaysians?"

Opposition leaders have emphasised a call for unity to resolve the months-long crisis in Selangor. DAP leader Lim Kit Siang said: "We still hope that the Pakatan Rakyat can continue to gain the confidence of people and I think we're still working in that direction."

But political observers said the damage has already been done. Months of political bickering has distracted the Pakatan government from solving the real problems faced by Selangor residents such as the water shortage, dengue outbreak and haze. "They are divided so I am disappointed. I don't know what's going to happen to Selangor after this - the water and other issues are still not resolved," said a Selangor resident.

The Sultan of Selangor, who is currently in Europe, will be back on Aug 27 and he has instructed the incumbent chief minister Khalid Ibrahim not to do anything until his return.

Ibrahim added: "One hopes that this episode will come to an end by the end of August when the Sultan comes back, the new chief minister is sworn in and they can present a new agenda. There is a silver lining for this administration - the next election is at least three years away, so they do have time to make good on promises and fix the damaged impressions."

While it is anyone guess whether the Sultan will accept Pakatan's nomination of Wan Azizah as the first woman chief minister, the opposition will have its work cut out to restore the public's faith and confidence in an alliance that is struggling to find a common political platform.

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