Thursday, April 28, 2011

PAS must stay with Pakatan - for now

The Islamic party realises that it cannot go it alone in any general election and must continue to align itself with its allies in the opposition alliance.
KUALA LUMPUR : PAS is not expected to “sever” ties with its allies DAP and PKR in the unregistered alliance of Pakatan Rakyat.

The party is expected to reiterate this stand when it holds its muktamar (annual general assembly) here from June 3 to 5. This is simply because it is not strong enough on its own to produce the desired results in any general election.

The Islamic party is expected to “put on hold” whatever “doubts” it has on DAP’s political philosophy and the so-called “Chinese traits” as well as PKR’s “irreparable credibility” just so to continue surviving in the country’s intriguing political scene.

The party leaders – clerics or veteran fundamentalists – know that the party has to depend on its allies in any electoral outing.

Going by the records, the party had won several seats in past general elections only when it was aided by another Malay-based party or when it aligned itself with another opposition party.

In 1991, the party made a good showing because it was aided by an Umno splinter party, Semangat 46. In 2008, the party again performed well when it aligned itself with PKR and DAP.

The party has had several runs on its own but failed to capture any state or win more than five parliamentary seats as grassroots support was insufficient to see it through.

It is common knowledge that in its bastions in Kelantan and Terengganu and other Malay-majority states like Kedah and Perak, the party lost to its traditional rival Umno by merely a few hundred votes in most seats – either state or parliamentary.

The party captured Kelantan and Terengganu when it was aided by Semangat 46 led by former Umno stalwart Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, but lost Terengganu later when it was on its own as Semangat 46 disbanded and its members rejoined Umno.

The few hundred votes which the party needed to win in a majority of the seats it contested always came from its ally – 1991 (Semangat 46) and 2008 (PKR and DAP).

PAS realised that it has to broaden its appeal, especially among the Chinese voters. Hence, its leaders, especially veteran fundamentalists such as president Abdul Hadi Awang and secretary-general Mustafa Ali, decided in the 1980s to set up a Chinese Consultative Council, aimed at winning Chinese votes.

When this venture did not quite succeed, the party last year formed a non-Muslim wing with the same objective but it appears that even this latest move is getting nowhere.

Playing it cool

With DAP being considered as the champion of the Chinese cause as reflected in the recently concluded Sarawak state election, PAS moderate approach and Islamic philosophy failed to attract Chinese or Indian voters.

Thus, PAS has no choice but to continue “playing cool” with its Pakatan allies despite the fact that the veteran fundamentalists in the party would like very much to disassociate itself from the brand of politics practised by DAP and PKR.

That was why PAS did not blow its top when PKR deputy president Azmin Ali hit out at Mustafa for making the statement that PAS would review its stand in Pakatan after the police have completed their investigations into the sex video scandal implicating Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Mustafa coolly replied that Azmin was under intense pressure which resulted in the outburst and added that Azmin did not have the perseverance of de facto PKR leader Anwar or his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is the party’s president.

Mustafa’s “toned-down” reply shows that PAS does not want to break away from Pakatan, not at least until the next general election because PAS cannot go it alone.

Zainal Epi FMT

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