PAS’ foreboding green tsunami - - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, May 12, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Kita berkerja atas kepercayaan kita melakukan semua ini untuk
Islam. Kita tidak kisah kalah, kerana kita pernah kalah banyak kali.
Kita tidak peduli jika tidak menjadi kerajaan kerana kita biasa menjadi
pembangkang. Tetapi kita hendaklah kalah dengan strategi-strategi yang
telah kita lakukan dengan baik. Jadi kalah kita kalah bermaruah.”
- Mohd Nasir Abdullah, Harakah Daily
COMMENT | The problem many people
make with PAS is that they conflate Abdul Hadi Awang and the Islamic
struggle of PAS. While PAS may have lost supporters because of Hadi’s
perceived collusion with Umno, the reality is that PAS is the only
political party with a coherent political and religious ideology and
vision for Malaysia that makes them, for now, political outsiders albeit
with considerable influence when it comes to the weakened mainstream
While Hadi is a hate figure for opposition – now establishment –
types, the reality is while PAS may not have hindered the current
Pakatan Harapan regime in the recently concluded general elections, its
GE14 outcome is testament to the fact that Hadi’s leadership of PAS has
sustained the party through a Malaysian tsunami while creating a tsunami
of their own.
I warned that this meme that PAS is doomed is foolhardy
– “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
PAS has remained true to its principles, and in numerous articles
that mainstream English speakers can’t be bothered to read told their
supporters that winning the federal government at the expense of their
Islamic values is not something which PAS desires. What they want is a
Malay/Muslim tsunami which legitimately leads them to federal power or
to create coalitions with like-minded political hegemons which sees
their power-sharing, which does include them betraying their Islamic
PAS’ green tsunami is honourable because despite the narrative of
partisans of PAS being betrayers and spoilers for Umno, PAS supporters
and the leadership were steadfast in their own narratives about a
kleptocratic government, the high cost of living and the values of Islam
in a Malaysia which was compromised. Now while Hadi was cosying up to
Umno which disgusted some, the base although conflicted, understood that
Malay/Muslim solidarity was important on certain issues, especially
after the perceived betrayal by Amanah and DAP.
Does this mean that when it comes to politics, PAS does not fight
dirty? Of course not. In some cases, they fight dirtier. This merely
means that PAS is not stupid, which is how some characterise them. This
means that like most successful Islamic hegemons operating in “moderate”
political terrains, PAS understands the need for the carrot-and-stick
approach. In case people were wondering, the carrot approach was when
they were in Pakatan Rakyat. The stick approach got them Kelantan,
Terengganu and great influence in Perak and Kedah.
PAS retaining Kelantan which many pundits, politicians and opposition
supporters claimed impossible, taking Terengganu which many thought
inconceivable and becoming extremely influential in Perak and Kedah, is
evidence that this Islamic party remains a contender in mainstream
Malay/Muslim politics despite their outsider status. It would be foolish
to continue to dismiss the PAS leadership or demonise their supporters.
In the euphoria of the Harapan win, people have not really considered
the gravity of the situation when it comes to PAS and Islam in this
country. For decades, Umno was the gatekeeper of Islam in this country.
Umno defined Islam and PAS was the voice of dissent, playing the long
game of slowly building consensus against the narratives of the Umno
state. Recently, because of a compromised Umno, they made inroads into
mainstream Malay/Muslim politics and where no doubt aided and abetted by
the deep Islamic state.
Do not be misled. Do not let the 1MDB issue and the persecution of
political rivals mask Islamic intrigues that may be happening on a sub
rosa level. BN component parties, MCA and MIC, merely went along with
what Umno said and played offence when it came to PAS and their
Islamism. They constantly reminded the non-Malay communities that PAS
was the Islamic bogeyman while Umno was carrying out a process of
Islamisation/Arabisation that the former prime minister, now our current
prime minister, was a part of.
Will Harapan play the Islamic game?
Is Harapan going to define Islam the way how Umno did? Is Harapan,
which includes DAP, going to carry on playing the Islamic game? In
previous articles, I wrote of how the DAP state government pouring money
into Islamic state organisations was a betrayal of their secular values
and further creates Islamic narratives that take hold in the Malay
Now as the second largest partner in the government, will DAP remain a
committed secular alternative to the “bangsa” and “agama” crowd within
Harapan or will be like MCA and MIC before them, turn a blind eye to how
Islam is politicised and funded in this country? Remember, this is a
coalition cobbled together to oust a kleptocrat, which now has to deal
with the post-1969 Umno devised tools of race and religion. Harapan
should not pick up those tools.
With Umno out in the cold, who defines Islam now? PAS for so long on
the receiving end of a federal-funded Islamic bureaucracy and propaganda
campaign, for the moment defines the Islamic narrative in this country.
Now that Umno is the opposition and a babe in the woods when it comes
to opposition politics, they are subservient to PAS who have
demonstrated that they are willing to go at it alone, if need be.
PAS and Umno will no doubt carry on using a weaponanised Islam for
political purposes. Remember class divisions feed into these Islamic
narratives of victimhood, which is why I suspect that it is important
for rural constituents to lag behind compared to their urban brethren.
The federal Harapan government should ensure that development and
knowledge seep into the areas where this kind of Islamism holds instead
of demonising supporters and the leadership of PAS.
As an Islamic party, PAS has every right to define the narrative of
Islam in this country. Harapan, on the other hand, should define the
secular narrative, which also includes an “Islamic” narrative of
reforming and weeding out corruption in Islamic institutions. The most important thing Harapan could do when it comes to Islam in
this country is to encourage a plurality of Islamic voices. This ensures
that Muslims are not constrained by what the state or their religious
leaders tell them but are free to explore their religion as they see
fit. Also, there are outstanding Islamic "issues" that affect
non-Muslims that need urgent attention.
PAS has in the leadership and grassroots, the political will and
cunning of people who have faced off with the current prime minister of
Malaysia. Unless the prime minister changes the way how he plays the
religious game, there will be no real change in this country. PAS is in a
position to not only dissent but has a platform on which to critique
the current Harapan government which now includes DAP, perceived to have
a strong evangelical wing, making it easier for PAS to define the
conflict along religious lines.
The federal government should be the secular alternative which should
include reforming Islamic institutions which further narratives of
‘ketuanism’ and Islamism in Malaysia but also encourage a plurality of
Islamic voices in Malaysia. Harapan cannot afford to play the Islamic
When it comes to Islam, PAS should rightly be the only game in town.