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What’s there not to like about PAS?

 | May 23, 2012

PAS is not corrupted nor power-crazy. It upholds justice, fairness and good governance.

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The issue of unity talks has again emerged to trouble the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. This issue is immortal. It can never die as it always resurfaces at the opportune or crucial time. This time it comes close to the impending 13th general election.

PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat has so far given the following replies to Umno on each occasion when the issue came up in the past:

In 2009 his reply was “Umno is again wooing PAS and the answer is no”. His exact words were: “Nak pinang lagi?!” This is translated into English as “Wooing again?!”

In 2010 when Umno said that they could allocate between three and five ministerial posts to PAS, his reply was: “No need so many ministerial posts lah, only one is enough – the prime minister’s post.”

In 2011, when Umno said that there must be Malay unity, his reply was just as good: “What about Muslim unity? The best thing to do would be to have both Malay unity and also Muslim unity, which is the more important one. Therefore the right thing to do would be for Umno to be dissolved so that all its members can join PAS because PAS is an Islamic party. Thus both forms of unity will be achieved.”

In 2012, his reply was that Umno must also be willing to accept PAS’ coalition partners, PKR and DAP.

This issue – unity talks – coming so close to the GE13 is to trap PAS. It is to make the non-Muslims, especially the Chinese, to be fearful of PAS. At the same time if PAS refuses, the rural Malays will view PAS as arrogant, stubborn and having sold out its principles to DAP. Therefore, PAS is caught on a highwire balancing act.

PAS is Umno’s ‘oxygen’

Truth be told, Umno always seeks out PAS when it is facing difficulties and now is one such time.

PAS vice-president and Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar has once commented that when Umno is having breathing difficulties, it seeks out the oxygen called PAS.

If PAS decides to join Barisan Nasional, Umno will get a million votes as there are a million PAS members. If this happens, then Umno can easily discard MCA, MIC and Gerakan because Umno no longer needs their assistance in pulling in the votes.

With PAS in BN, Umno can easily win the GE13. No sweat! This is the reason why Umno seeks out this short-cut to winning at the polls and it is none other than to recruit PAS.

MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek is raising the issue of whether PKR and DAP know about PAS so-called foray into the unity talks. Of course, Chua is worried and well he should be. If PAS were to join BN, MCA is a dead duck. PKR and DAP will also be dealt a very severe blow but not as severe as MCA.

PAS is the major partner in Pakatan in securing Malay support, especially from the rural folks. There is a saying: “Di mana ada pondok dan padi, di situlah adanya PAS” (Where there is a religious pondok school and a paddy field, there you will find PAS).

PAS is also the main supplier of manpower for events such as the Bersih rallies. The image of Nik Aziz wearing the Bersih 3.0 T-shirt and giving the thumbs-up sign spurred many of its supporters to journey to Kuala Lumpur for the Bersih sit-in on April 28. It is Nik Aziz who is the prime mover for PAS. If Nik Aziz says “Go ahead”, its supporters will be ready and willing.

And thus Nik Aziz is the major stumbling block in Umno’s bid to recruit PAS. No doubt there are elements in PAS who are in favour of the unity talks as had happened when the unity government idea was mooted by BN right after the fall of Selangor in the previous general election. But Nik Aziz put a stop to all that nonsense.

However, those not in favour of unity talks are more in number overall. The PAS Dewan Muslimat (women’s wing) has this to say: “If we join Umno, we will be tasked with the job of distributing indecent pictures and therefore we don’t want to have any dealings with them.”

The Dewan Pemuda PAS (PAS Youth) is also not in favour, citing Umno’s lack of observance of Islamic teachings.

“PAS will never abandon Pakatan,” said Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad. His colleague, Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkefly Ahmad, added that “it is better to drink orange juice with DAP than to drink beer with Umno”, meaning that it is better to do good deeds together with DAP than to do bad deeds with Umno.

In PAS, the principle practised is “Tahaluf Siyasi” or working together in coalition politics.

The PAS conundrum

Many non-Muslims fail to understand the difficulty that PAS faces in trying to please its grassroots supporters while at the same time appeasing the non-Muslims. That is why PAS has to implement hudud law if there is an opportunity to do so within the legal framework of parliamentary democracy.

Therefore, the non-Muslims must try to understand the politics of PAS. The PAS non-Muslim wing (Dewan Himpunan Penyokong PAS) has more than 20,000 members and growing and this indicates that for those who understand PAS, there is nothing to fear.

PAS is not corrupted nor power-crazy. It upholds justice, fairness and good governance. What is there not to like about PAS?

Selena Tay is a FMT columnist.


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