PAS sidesteps core issues, retreads rhetoric path

Expect speeches on conspiracy claims, ‘Timah’ while delegates keep mum on strategies party should take to remain relevant

KUALA TERENGGANU – PAS as the second largest political party in the country has some serious questions to ponder as the next general election (GE) looms.

Should the Islamist party throw its lot behind Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional (PN) or go with Umno and Muafakat Nasional? So far, PAS rhetoric is that it wants to be the unifying factor between the warring Umno and Bersatu.

However, this was not quite the talking point in its 67th muktamar this weekend at the Duyong Marina & Resort here.

So far, delegates have yet to openly address PAS’ role in uniting the Malay-Muslims or concrete plans for the next GE.

Instead, PAS has again treaded the same far right path it always has during its assemblies. For example, Penang delegate Abdul Razib Abd Rahim alleged of a conspiracy to displace the Malay-Muslims from the state, which is governed by the DAP-led Pakatan Harapan.

The “Timah” controversy also continues to dominate as the delegates slam the producers of the Malaysian whiskey for the use of the name while using it as allusions to other serious allegations.

As often as party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang describes PAS as a kingmaker, much of his party’s fate in the polls depends on its partner. While it continues to flirt with Umno and Bersatu, there will come a time where PAS must choose either one.

The Melaka polls will offer a glimpse into how things can be and if its gamble with PN works out, seeing that PAS has forsaken its white and green symbol for PN’s blue.

PAS sidesteps core issues, retreads rhetoric path
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has refused to conclude that its partnership with Umno under Muafakat Nasional is under threat despite a popular belief that it is to the biggest Malay based party. – Bernama pic

But PAS would not be in this position if it had heeded the warnings by its former long-serving spiritual adviser – the late Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

Just before he died in 2015, the legendary PAS leader had steadfastly refused to work with Umno, saying that it would cause PAS to suffer the consequences.

Six years after his demise, his words may be coming true.

But PAS leadership, such as Hadi and secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan have feverishly defended the PAS pursuit of the Malay Unity agenda.

PAS election director Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has maintained that the party wants to see the concept of Malay Unity prevail at all costs despite the widening rift between Umno and Bersatu.

“We were colonised and split up for centuries. Isn’t it ideal for us to come together finally as one cohesive political force?” Sanusi said recently.

PAS election director Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor says that the party wants to see the concept of Malay Unity prevail at all costs. – The Vibes pic, November 7, 2021
PAS election director Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor says that the party wants to see the concept of Malay Unity prevail at all costs. – The Vibes pic

Sanusi, who is Kedah menteri besar, will lead the PAS charge in the Melaka election. Although PAS will be contesting in seven of the 28 seats, Sanusi had refused to confirm if the state polls will be used as a yardstick who PAS chooses in the future.

For now, PAS is seen as backing PN as part of its hold on the federal government.

With an uncertain future for more than one million of its members, Hadi has refused to conclude that its partnership with Umno under Muafakat Nasional is under threat despite a popular belief that it is mae alsalama (farewell) to the biggest Malay based party.

Former Harakahdaily editor Zulkifli Sulong does not expect anything major to take place at this year’s muktamar even though the PAS leadership is ageing and perceived as out of touch on what the country needs to move forward as a nation.

“It is status quo. The delegates are afraid to speak up. But PAS has support, make no qualms about it. However, will the support allow the party to be as dominant as others or just to make up the numbers except in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.”

While PAS is strong, Umno and its Barisan Nasional machinery are stronger and they may challenge PAS in its bastions at Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu, he added.

He said PAS may resent that if it works with Umno, the latter is regarded as a “big brother”, who will dictate what it must do whereas in PN, PAS is treated as an equal partner.

He does not believe Malay Unity is a final objective, it may just be a political strategy because if it is serious then PAS should be finding ways to make peace with its rivals in PKR and PAS splinter party Amanah.

Although the party election is taking place, Zulkifli does not expect changes to the line-up, speculating that the three incumbents for the vice-president posts Datuk Seri Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar (Terengganu menteri besar), Datuk Nik Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah (Kelantan deputy menteri besar) and Idris Ahmad (religious affairs minister) will retain their posts despite a challenge from former PAS research head Mohd Zuhdi Marzuki.

Earlier Hadi and his deputy Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man had retained their posts unopposed.

Hadi is ailing so PAS may turn their attention to Tuan Ibrahim, who has scored points on being the environment and water minister.

A dark horse to watch is Bachok MP Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz, the son of Nik Aziz.

He has gone under the radar with some speculating that he is plotting a return after a lacklustre tenure as PAS youth chief while in Parliament, he is seen as ambiguous.

The next general election must be held on or before July 2023, with some pundits implying that it is next year once the country successfully moves into the endemic phase.

The principled nature of what Hadi is trying to impress upon, has been tainted because PAS is the only political party to have worked with all major parties in the country, even with its now nemesis PKR and DAP.

By : Ian McIntyre – THE VIBES

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