Perhaps I'm just being thick, and there is something much more subtle going on here that I am missing, but isn't that exactly the documented difference between ',' and '=>'? From perldoc perlop (emphasis mine):
The => digraph is mostly just a synonym for the comma operator. It's useful for documenting arguments that come in pairs. As of release 5.001, it also forces any word to the left of it to be interpreted as a string.
So the statement 'use => strict' is a 2-element list in void context, whereas using a comma allows 'use' to be interpreted as a keyword, thus the syntax error...
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