OPED – PAS the king maker?

Op=Ed By Cordoba Ali

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In this article, we will analyse what may go wrong for the Islamists in their flirtations with the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

If the Malaysian Islamic Party or PAS plays its cards well, it may be the king-maker in Malaysia’s next general elections.

But having a master political manipulator within the party does not mean victory is within sight, though the analogy of victory depends largely on what leader Hadi Awang has in mind on his scoreboard.

Nevertheless, the party will have to clear a few issues first before it stands out as a national political party that can influence the future political trends in the country.

Since it started the campaign for the implementation of the Hudud or Islamic Law in Kelantan and caused sufficient friction within the Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Coalition) that broke down eventually, the PAS has seen many leaving and few arriving.

Almost half of its parliamentarians left the party to form another Islamic party, the Parti Amanah National.

Hence, the PAS has to stem the continued migration of its members to both the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) of Anwar Ibrahim and the Bersatu (United) party of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Now, if it is not careful it may end up being the joke of the political spectrum, where it could stand to lose more credibility while trying to eat the bananas at both ends in one go.

If the Party Islam Malaysia – or we rather call them the Islamists here – is not careful and gets carried away by the new deal it has with the Umno, they may lose in overall political share altogether.

There is no doubt that the Islamists have a master political manipulator as their chief, a trait that is necessary to survive in the current fluid political landscape in Malaysia.

But the sad state of affairs of the Islamists is that they are playing to the tune of the Umno, expecting a raw deal with the biggest single political organisation in the country.

The Umno has defied all the odds to remain in power since the independence of Malaysia.

The Islamists, on the contrary, have failed over the decades to bring down the Umno from its firm grip on power.

Betraying Anwar
It was given a rare opportunity when former protege of ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad was brutally removed from office and sent to jail on trumped-up charges.

Anwar Ibrahim brought what the Islamists never really had, that is the popular appeal and they rode on it for 15 years, before – as we expected – they waited for him to be jailed again to dilute the opposition coalition.

But for the PAS, it is not a betrayal, it is a sign from God that they had to abandon the guy accused and condemned for ‘sodomy’ to join forces with the people who are truly concerned with the fate of Islam in Malaysia.

To safeguard the Malays from what they now call the threat of liberalism and anti-Islamic agenda of the opposition movement, the Islamists have made their mind for the 14th General Elections: That is they will play havoc against the divided opposition, to get the Umno more votes thus more seats.

Hellfire or Vellfire?
With the Islamists fanning the idea of a looming threat from both the Chinese community and the so-called liberal opposition parties, they are hoping that the Malays in their majority feels the insecurity and joins them in supporting the regime of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

But the writings are already on the wall, particularly in the urban areas where the Malays are not that easily wooed with the “Islamic’ agenda, and where the Chinese community is firmly pro-opposition.

Among the Malays in the townships, there is the joke that is going around that a religious leader said corruption leads to hellfire in the hereafter, but the Islamists said they heard the religious leader said that “corruption leads to Vellfire, instead.”

For those who did not get the joke, Vellfire is a sportier version of the Alphard and the joke meant that the PAS was bought over by the ruling coalition.

Yet, the PAS is not worried at all, and among its leaders, it is business as usual.

And this is where the Islamists may end up biting the dust.

The PAS is struggling to shed away accusations that it has been bought over with RM90 million, which was deposited in a PAS member’s account at the Affin Bank branch in Kuala Terengganu.

Terengganu, where Peninsular Malaysia’s oil and gas is located, is also where the 1MDB was made.

Well, nevermind the RM90 million and never mind the selling-off of Anwar Ibrahim.

The PAS still have to make its voters believe that playing spoiler by being the third force in the next elections will win it more seats, and a soft place in the next Cabinet of Najib Razak.

That is if the end-game delivers a Barisan Nasional victory in which it will not need the Islamists as a coalition partner, or vice=versa.

In the event the opposition, now helmed by Mahathir with Anwar in jail, wins the elections (which is deemed improbable by most observers), the PAS will be simply left in the lurch!