Articles, Opinions & Views: Negotiating with PAS makes no strategic sense - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy

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the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

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The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

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Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Negotiating with PAS makes no strategic sense - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Malaysiakini : “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” ― Nelson Mandela
COMMENT | The opposition are slaves to the 'avoiding three-cornered fights' meme. I get that the data favours the strategy of avoiding three-cornered fights, but this idea only makes sense if it means denying BN allies in Parliament. It makes no sense if it means helping potential BN allies retain power, or potentially enabling opposition-held states to be destabilised from within.
Furthermore, this idea that denying BN a two-thirds majority somehow constrains the regime because they are unable to make constitutional amendments is misleading. The current Umno regime has put forth legislation that further sustains their power and erodes individual liberties and they did this without needing the magical two-thirds majority.
Nobody cared when Chairman Najib made his NSC debut – “A couple of days ago the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 came into force. Did anyone, besides the usual suspects, bother to read the bill? Did anyone really care? When the Act came into force, a BBC newscaster asked a local pollster if there was any opposition to it and the response was that they were concerns raised by ‘civil society’ because of the dodgy record of the Umno regime. How quaint, I thought.”
And let us assume that Umno/BN needed a two-thirds majority that would erode our rights and to enhance the position of the “Malays” and “Islam.” By “our”, I mean anyone who does not ascribe to the “bangsa dan agamaweltanschauung that is mainstream Malay politics.
Does anyone really think that Umno would not be able to muster the requisite support from Malay members of opposition parties who tell us (and their non-Malay supporters remain quiet) that they always have to prove that they are Malay and Islam enough for their base?
Malaysian politics is so screwed up that rational people, regardless of religion or ethnicity, can never be sure that the progressive forces in this country would not succumb to racial or religious politics just to remain relevant. The argument is that by remaining relevant, our rights would be protected, but every time opportunities to defend those rights arise, these people's champions cave in to business-as-usual politics.
Speaking for nobody else, my objections with working with PAS is not because they are an Islamic party. It is not that because they are anti-DAP or Amanah or Bersatu. It is because they are not independent. You can be Islamic and despise the ideologies and political personalities of your coalition partners if you have a common opponent that you wish to overthrow.
This is old ground for me. From the beginning, I articulated the agenda and the folly of “negotiating” with PAS – “A few months ago, I quoted what some PAS insiders said to me – ‘What he (PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang) hopes to achieve, according to some PAS insiders who spoke to me, is rule by proxy. To make sufficient gains into the federal system by supporting Umno thereby generating the perception that PAS has a de jure, if not de facto role, in the government.’
“Of course, that near perfect political animal – and I mean this as a compliment, by the way – PKR deputy president Azmin Ali finds it difficult to negotiate with PAS. ‘We have to swallow our pride and put the interest of the nation before the party’s interests,’ he says, not realising that this is what makes PKR and Harapan sound weaker than they actually are.”
Fighting BN and its proxy
And therein lies the rub. Is Umno the common political opponent they wish to overthrow or is Umno the sub rosa political partner they wish to enable. Who benefits if PAS remains in power in Pakatan-controlled states? Who benefits if PAS remains politically relevant? If we subscribe to the theory that mainstream Malay politics is all about ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama,' then we have to acknowledge even with the failings of the other opposition political parties, PAS has remained steadfast is their desire to cooperate with Umno.
In other words, who is the opposition in reality negotiating with when they negotiate with PAS? What would happen when the opposition is weak, engaged in inter-party schisms, coalition bickering and lack a unified agenda, that PAS remains in power? What would happen if they gained more influence in the opposition? What would happen if that influence were actually to the benefit of Umno/BN? What would the strategy be then?
Which is more of a gamble – allowing PAS to remain politically relevant or losing an election to Umno? Please keep in mind that if the theory is correct that PAS’ role is to act as a spoiler, then even if PAS loses seats, there would be rewards aplenty to incentivise PAS to remain as a sub rosa ally to the hegemon. In this game, only PAS wins.
And that is the myth of the three-cornered fights. Perhaps back in the day when PAS was more independent, it would have been prudent to negotiate with PAS. However, in the current political climate there is no three-cornered fight. Let me repeat that. There is no three-cornered fight.
The reality is that you are fighting BN and its proxy. If the people are truly on your side, then the opponent and its proxy are banished. That is the nature of the game. There is no point negotiating with the proxy in the hopes of “winning” the fight because negotiation merely destabilises your coalition to the benefit of your opponent and furthers the propaganda campaign to voters that your coalition is weak so why bother voting for the coalition.
But let us say that by some miracle the opposition wins and manages to retain seats (and states), thereby freeing themselves from the shackles of this three-cornered fight meme and its dependence on PAS. This would be a game changer that could lead to actual political and social change.
I speak for nobody else when I say I do not mind losing in the upcoming election, but I will not throw the game away.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 1:03 PM  
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