Articles, Opinions & Views: Do not underestimate PAS - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

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”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

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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Do not underestimate PAS - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Back Stabbers Party
Malaysiakini : “We were literally on our own and got help from NGO friends. We were not prepared to fight PAS because they are not our principal enemy and our actions were construed as being weak.” – Mohd Nasir Hashim, PSM leader
COMMENT | My entry into oppositional politics was during the early days of the reformasi movement when PAS understood the opportunity of aligning with Anwar Ibrahim when he was ejected from Umno paradise.
Even in those days, there was a kind of dialectic going on between the grassroots of PAS and the leadership, who were obsessed with dethroning the old maverick while clinging on to their “pure” Islamic beliefs which has no place in mainstream Malay politics. I say “no place in mainstream Malay society” because the gatekeepers of Islam have always been the Umno state and while Umno has often used PAS as the religious bogeyman against the non-Malays, the role of PAS in ensuring Malay-Muslim hegemony in this country has changed. The non-Malays are not the issue anymore but rather the continuation of Malay power through proxies of the Umno state.
Opposition political operatives and supporters should not underestimate PAS and fixate on Abdul Hadi Awang as some sort of Judas because the reality in that the fissures within PAS and the opposition were only camouflaged and not repaired when the late Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat was tenuously maintaining the peace in Pakatan Rakyat.
This meme that PAS is doomed in the coming election is a dangerous idea that feeds into the victim ideology of PAS – and the opposition for that matter – and could very well prove to be disastrous for Pakatan Harapan. PAS’ propaganda is far more sophisticated than Umno’s and Harapan’s and displays a keen understanding of how Malay society works. If anything, PAS has evolved - not ideologically - when it comes to courting the Malay vote, having learnt much from its partners since becoming mainstream.
Some opposition analysts think that PAS was crippled when Amanah broke away but my thinking is different, especially when speaking to PAS grassroots-level organisers. While a political party needs a robust dialectic within it to remain relevant, PAS is now free to define (centrally) its own version of moderation without having to rely on non-Muslims (or Muslims who are simpatico to non-Muslim politicians) input to craft a narrative which resonates with their ever-growing base.
While Amanah is struggling to define itself as a moderate Islamic party and giving way to the other political power blocks in the opposition, PAS and its supporters know exactly who they are. PAS is playing up the “humiliation” of the PAS outcasts who have to beg “arrogant” non-Muslim powerbrokers for a seat at the table. This propaganda is targeted not only at the base but a section of the oppositional Malay polity who are bewildered by the changing political landscape of the opposition.
Indeed, with Mahathir becoming the captain of the Harapan ship, this has revived old narratives that served PAS so well in the past. This idea that Mahathir is the great pharaoh who wants to control Islam and pervert the implementation of Islamic law, has rejuvenated the PAS base and raised the hackles of a voting block within the Malay community who view the return of the old maverick as something disastrous for Malaysia.
Powerful narrative
I was speaking to a PAS grassroots activist who helpfully showed me the kind of propaganda that PAS puts out which was impressive in its sophistication. Most of it was done by instant messaging and it was quite brutal in the way how it clearly defined the PAS struggle. This is no waffling narrative.
Some in the PAS intelligentsia tell me that with Mahathir in the picture, what they are “promoting” is it a choice between Umno and the great Mahafiraun. So if you do not like Umno and you do not like Mahathir, and you are troubled by how the opposition has “putar belit”, then the logical choice is PAS, who has remained steadfast in its vision of what it wants Malaysia to be.
But what about the opposition narratives of PAS being a handmaiden to Umno, you ask? Well, Muslim solidarity trumps ideology and because of the political and religious interests of its base, it is always easier to believe that Umno is ceding ground instead of PAS assimilating into Umno. Besides, the PAS faithful are more used to hating the old maverick rather than anything the current Umno potentate has done. While the rest of the opposition voting block is obsessed with 1MDB, opposition operatives and their supporters have been careless in their rhetoric against the Malay community, which has benefitted the propagandists within PAS.
PAS has been very adept at using the Umno hegemon with the Rohingya issues, the conversion issue, the hide and seek, hudud amendments, and this has played well with not only with their base but also many in the Malay polity who have for years been brainwashed with racial and religious propaganda. In fact, one of the themes besides victimhood in PAS propaganda arsenal is the siege mentality that is the favoured tool of the Umno hegemon.
I wrote of how a PSM political operative claimed that when it comes to politics, PAS is even more vicious than Umno (see the quote that opens this piece). The problem here is that people underestimate the political cunning of PAS. They underestimate the mood of the working-class Malay polity that PAS has a direct link with now, especially in the urban areas because PAS has become mainstream.
But most importantly, it is easier to believe that PAS is "finished" instead of viewing this political cult as a crucial piece on the chessboard. Their brand of Islam has been normalised in the urban areas and thus they can demonstrate the narrative that PAS cannot be involved in running successful states is a myth. Of course, they did not run it on their own but we are talking about propaganda here and not reality.
Just to recap, what I believe is PAS’ value to the Umno hegemon - “Hence, PAS’ value to Umno is their role in weakening the opposition and spreading around Islamic memes that ultimately destabilise the already weak secular foundations of the opposition. This late in the game, when the opposition has already let the enemy in the gates, it is pointless finding common ground, especially when the opposition is juggling so many disparate alliances.”
PAS is optimistic not because it is sure that it can ride the so-called Malay tsunami. PAS is optimistic because it understands that it is playing a game in which even if it loses to Umno or Harapan, it wins because of the value it has to the Umno state and depending on how "badly" Umno wins, PAS stock would rise.
By pushing this narrative that it does not need to win elections or that it only need God to win elections, this plays well with a growing number of disenfranchised within the Malay community and absolves them if they lose.
This is not the time to dismiss PAS.  Every piece in the political chessboard is important, and while PAS may not be king, it is more than just a pawn.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 11:08 AM  
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