“For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”
- Thomas More, ‘Utopia’
COMMENT PAS friends of mine have been writing to me and saying that I am being unfair to PAS. They claim that calling their party a religious cult and branding their style of politics as Umno collusion is extremely partisan. Amanah is a DAP creation and while in Pakatan, PAS was a team player until they were “bullied” and vilified by DAP after the passing of Tok Guru.
While I dispute this narrative, I think it is pointless hammering on PAS for deciding to go their own way. Instead, I will hammer on PKR for maintaining this charade that there is any value for Harapan to continue working with PAS.
Mind you, this has nothing to do with PAS. For whatever reasons, they have chosen to recalibrate their politics and while I disagree with it, this is still a free country and political parties are free to choose whom they align with. However, the problem here is not PAS, it is PKR. When I questioned why Harapan was still working with PAS, I acknowledged two salient points:
1) “Harapan should have learnt this lesson a long time ago. PAS construes the alliance as weak. They were always a virulent anti-Anwar strain within PAS which looked at the coming together of the supposed liberal reformer and convicted “sodomist” - to their minds one and the same - as anathema to their zealotry.
2) “People talk about the Umno DNA within PKR but they forget that the only reason why the opposition was able to get itself off life support after the brutal beating they took during the short-lived Abdullah Ahmad Badawi glory days was because of the support of PAS.”
PKR's Batu MP Tian Chua claimed that there is nothing to be alarmed about PKR attending PAS’ mega rally points to the dysfunctionality of the opposition. There is enough evidence that the opposition only makes gains in elections when Umno is weak and the opposition is united. While I understand that PKR is in a difficult situation when it comes to PAS, the reality is that PAS is preying on the weakness of the opposition front and will happily turn the tables when the time is right for them, and most definitely, Umno.
Also attending that rally was Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (Ikatan), which in my opinion is the political wing of the outsourced thugs of Umno. Take the “simple” issue of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s “not hudud” amendment recently adopted by the Najib regime. The public stand of Ikatan’s president Kadir Sheikh Fadzir (who was absent at the rally) on this issue was - “Justeru, semua pihak jangan cuba nak main ‘game upmanship’ (tunjuk siapa lebih hebat) dengan DAP, selain membuktikan siapa paling anti-Islam dan Melayu semata-mata untuk meraih populariti.
“PAS adalah parti besar dan antara yang menunjangi politik negara selain Umno, justeru sudah tiba masanya PAS tunjukkan taring mereka.”
How does it look? We just had the MCA issued a stern reprimand (or whatever that was) to the representative who “walked out” at the Perlis vote. And now we have PKR attending a rally which ultimately descended into a DAP and Amanah bashing rally.
In other words, PKR think there is nothing to be alarmed about when PKR attends a rally that supports policies that they are supposed to be against and attacks their political allies. Meanwhile, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia attempt to play bridge builder has achieved nothing beyond giving PAS the opportunity to vent at their former ally and recalcitrant children. Which of course is fair enough since Amanah has declared open season on PAS and DAP has made it disdain publicly apparent.
Furthermore, we have to remember that when it comes to PAS, straight fights are not the top priority. PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan said, “A straight fight or multi-cornered fights (in the general election) can only be derived from the (correct) political attitude. It (straight fights) is not the main issue here.”
I have no idea what the “correct political attitude” is, but the PAS I remember was more interested in bringing down Umno rather than advocating the fine points of political theory or nursing hurt feelings on the political battlefield.
If the correct political attitude means working with Umno when it comes to Muslim issues, then I would suggest that anyone working with Umno on Muslim issues is anathema to the oppositional voices in this country but sadly not anathema to Harapan, which has demonstrated that when it comes to Muslim issues, are quick to fold under pressure. But I digress.
It is really no point in reminding PAS that it lost whenever it went at it alone against BN, because all indications point to the fact that, when it comes to Umno, PAS does not need to win elections to pose a threat to Umno. All they have to do is hamper the efforts of the Harapan and Bersatu and they would be more useful to Umno than any of the other BN members.
With this in mind, the electoral pact between Harapan and Bersatu means very little with PAS out of the picture unless by some miracle - and at the moment I do not see how - the “other” electoral pact between Bersatu and PAS provides an opportunity for straight fights with the Umno hegemon.
Ultimately, all these attempts at bridge building are pointless. What the opposition should be doing is concentrating on formulating policy and spreading the message of how a Harapan government differs from the present kelptocratic regime. What the opposition should be doing is building a foundation to work from, and not repeating the mistakes that led to its fracturing.
This whole idea of straight fights with Umno is merely a pipe dream now. The “compulsory” precondition of PAS will never be met, and it really does not matter how much time is given to disparate groups’ intent on preserving power instead of removing Umno. The reality is that unless there is a tsunami in Sabah and Sarawak, there will be no change of government in the next elections.
It will be cold comfort if PAS does not do well in the coming elections but Harapan is in tatters. Moreover, while opposition supporters think that the opposition has a chance of winning in the coming elections, the reality is that the dream of changing government in this political terrain it is still a dream deferred.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.- Mkini