COMMENT | Does anyone else get
the impression that PKR lawmaker William Leong is the only one doing
something while everyone else fiddles while Selangor burns? Leong is
right when he says that the party, and by extension Pakatan Harapan,
should be preparing to meet PAS in three-cornered fights for the
upcoming battle in Selangor, and PKR should stop dealing with PAS.
Mind you, some would argue that throwing in the towel is not doing
anything productive, but I think that sometimes not playing the game is
better than making excuses for losing the game even though you knew you
were playing a rigged game.
I already made my stand clear that attempts at seat negotiation with PAS is an exercise in futility
but more importantly, the worst kind of political expediency – “I would
argue the possibility of losing state power is better in the end than
continuing dealing with a supposed ally that has Umno strings attached
to it. Furthermore, if PAS loses relevance to Umno, then another piece
on the chessboard is removed and the opposition front can function more
cohesively instead of dealing with an ally whose every move seems to be
synchronised with Putrajaya.”
This latest expose about PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang working with
the grand Umno poohbah merely confirms what political insiders have
been leaking for months. PAS is holding a weak PKR by the cojones and
anyone making the argument that PAS has any part to play in the
opposition should have his or her head examined.
Of course – and I will never tire of saying this – this idea that PAS
is solely to blame for this fiasco, is mendacious. There is really no
point revisiting the ‘PAS for All’ debacle but it is important to note
that religious extremism in Selangor, and indeed Harapan, was let in
through the front door by the basest of political instincts.
Hadi’s revisionism of the Memali incident is demonstrative of how
this regime is pushing its luck when it comes to Islamic extremism in
this country. I would argue that what Hadi and Umno are doing with the
Memali incident is like what US President Donald Trump did with the
Charlottesville tragedy, that is normalising extremism for their
political and religious bases.
Of course, in this political climate, normalising racial and
religious superiority or arguing against such strategies is pointless.
What is my point? That PAS is extremist and not the other “Malay-based”
political parties? I figure dealing with one less extremist party is
better than dealing with a bunch of them, right?
More importantly, PAS has made it very clear that it finds working
with Umno a better route to federal power than working Harapan. The only
way to stop PAS - and here is the irony, Umno wants to stop PAS - is
for Harapan to disavow PAS even if it means the possibility of losing
Selangor. While some in the opposition think that this would never
happen, I would argue that confining PAS to the backwaters is worth it
even it means compromising state-level power.
Remember what PAS ulama wing delegate Zulkifli Ismail said after his
litany of how PKR has been disloyal to PAS – “Cooperation must become
the space and platform to propagate Islam. The goal of Islam is not to
allow absolute cooperation." What do you think he means, Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali?
A vicious PAS
We are not talking about a political party talking to its base and
members. We are talking about a political party that has no problem
losing electoral contests as long as it gets them closer to Umno power.
As someone for PSM once told me, if they (PAS) consider you weak, they
will be even more vicious.
PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution said that "our priority now
is to talk to William and hear what he has to say," which is kind of
disingenuous because it is not as if Leong is talking in riddles. Everyone is saying the same thing. Everyone is wondering why PKR
continues dancing with PAS. Everyone knows the reason, and that is
because PKR thinks that if it drops PAS, the party would be in trouble
and of course, there are concerns of sabotage because PAS and PKR are
joined at the hip in all manner of municipal issues.
There are very real concerns about the kind of strategies PAS would
employ when it knows that it is fighting a losing battle. Look, if Umno
is worried about Mahatharists sleepers within its rank, do you not think
that they are comforted by PAS sleepers within the political machinery
Does anyone really think that a three-cornered fight would be fought
in The Marquess of Queensberry rules? I would argue, despite what other
political pundits say, that Selangor is not a safe bet because prolonged
negotiations with PAS has emboldened its grassroots and enabled Umno to
deal with its own problems within Selangor while Harapan was busy
bickering with PAS. I would argue that this was the strategy from
Putrajaya and it has worked remarkably well.
Think about this for a moment. What kind of deal could Azmin strike
that would be beneficial to the Harapan? I posit that the only deal that
could be made would be beneficial to PKR and any such deal would be
detrimental to Harapan because PAS has no interest in dealing with the
DAP, Bersatu or Amanah.
Furthermore, I would argue that if PAS is allowed to maintain its
presence in the Selangor government it would just weaken the already
tenuous bonds within Harapan and Umno would have a say in the running of
the Selangor without having to even win the state. What did those thugs say in that incident in the hostel in Japan?
“Melayu dengan Melayu pun macam ni!” There is that.