“Healey’s First Law of Holes: When in one, stop digging.”
– Denis Healey
I would argue that PAS’ threat of “shared consequences” if there is no negotiation with this Islamic cult masquerading as a political party, is the best thing that could happen to Pakatan Harapan, or whatever the coalition is called now.
After months of squabbling with former ally DAP, manipulating PKR and unofficially becoming a component member of BN, all PAS wants to do now is remain politically relevant to Umno and maintain an electoral foothold in the landscape that was made during the period they acted like a functional member of the opposition alliance.
This warning to Pakatan of “shared consequences” is merely a desperate attempt to maintain power so that they can continue this dance with a hobbled opposition and continue extorting whatever it can from the Najib regime.
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.
No doubt, PKR and Bersatu would take this opportunity to continue their attempts to build bridges, although Bersatu has signalled that there is a time limit as to how long they would be willing to deal with PAS. Meanwhile, PKR continues to function as though PAS is still part of the alliance although which alliance has always been a matter of perspective.
Now I hope that since PAS has said that it would negotiate with anybody except Amanah, DAP does not seriously consider getting into a marriage of convenience with PAS. When DAP’s Tony Pua spoke of “giving time to those who want to negotiate with that party”, I hope he does not include DAP in “those” as I mentioned in my earlier piece.
“Of course, when DAP’s Tony Pua says this: (a) “How do we trust a party that is unprincipled, that only wants its bread to be buttered on both sides and wants to use its partners to attain its own selfish interests?” and then adds this: (b) “However, DAP understands the importance of one-to-one fights in the general elections. That’s why we agreed to give time to those who still want to negotiate with that party…” meaning because one-to-one fights is politically advantageous to us, we do not mind dealing with unprincipled backstabbers, it all gets rather messy and points to the dysfunction of the opposition.”
DAP could theoretically bury the hatchet with PAS and work out some sort of electoral arrangement but if PAS is thinking that this would gain them non-Malay/Muslim, then PAS and DAP are seriously underestimating the current mood of the opposition voting public.
Besides, for better or worse, Amanah and DAP are joined at the hip. DAP consorting with PAS in any way makes Amanah look weak, plays into the hands of Umno propagandists and signals that Harapan is weaker than it is.
While it may have taken DAP some time to acknowledge PAS’ Janus nature, PSM on the other hand learnt the hard way that dealing with PAS in a multi-cornered fight was toxic and their tactics unbecoming for a religious party robed in ethical conduct that the PAS leadership and supporters claim to be. Indeed, PSM’s Mohd Nasir Hashim told me that their tactics were worse than Umno’s.
Keep in mind that the general perception amongst Umno proxies is that PAS holds more power remaining on the outside instead of operating from the corridors of power. They view PAS’ presence in Harapan as destabilising and as such they are in a position to secure hegemony because the Malay polity is fractured and suffering from election fatigue.
PKR meanwhile legitimises PAS’ political recalibration by continuing to share the same stage and platform of the Islamic “political party” that even an Umno stooge like Ikatan’s president Kadir Sheikh Fadzir can proclaim – “Justeru, semua pihak jangan cuba nak main ‘game upmanship’ (tunjuk siapa lebih hebat) dengan DAP, selain membuktikan siapa paling anti-Islam dan Melayu semata-mata untuk meraih populariti.
“PAS adalah parti besar dan antara yang menunjangi politik negara selain Umno, justeru sudah tiba masanya PAS tunjukkan taring mereka.”
Ever since the passing of Tok Guru, the Umno simpatico elements of PAS have redefined the party and the discourse to ensure that their Islamic dreams come to fruition. They have changed the “mahafiraun” narrative that sustained PAS all these years to another more accessible, politically expedient narrative where PAS positions itself as the moral police of the Umno hegemon, counselling Umno for the betterment of the Muslim polity.
They are pushing the narrative that by “cooperating with Umno” they are in fact saving the soul and destiny of the Muslim/Malay community and establishing a “true” Islamic state that would entail legalising the criminal code of syariah.
I always loved this quote of current de facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad of PAS when he raged – “(They) have deviated from Islam and should be condemned to Hell” when PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, in one of his numerous religious recalibration, was attempting to impose hudud on Terengganu.
Back in the day when I argued if PAS could hold the middle ground, I said –
“When objective PAS watchers would no doubt recall the time when Hadi Awang (as menteri besar) was hell-bent on imposing hudud in Terengganu that resulted in the then-prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi proclaiming that the police would not enforce such laws.
“Hadi Awang, who was convinced that Muslims and non-Muslims would embrace such laws, had even identified specific sites where prisons would be built but did not offer any specifics on how amputations and stonings would be carried out.”
This was that brief period when Hadi Awang was in secular drag. These days of course, Hadi Awang with the backing of Umno can pretty much do what he wants without having to deal with messiness of collaborative politics.
Of course, folks know that PAS’ threat of shared consequences was really aimed at PKR. While Hadi has liquid dreams of Amanah kneeling before him, considers DAP intractable and Bersatu inconsequential, they realise that PKR has the most to lose if PAS is out of the picture.
This is why they hope that PKR does the dirty work in negotiating for seats on behalf of their partners or at the very least is supportive of PAS when PAS decided to make plays for other seats in non-traditional territories for whatever reasons.
It is better to pull the band aid off now than dealing with PAS later. There are no shared consequences, only shared failures in this situation, and Harapan should drop PAS and roll the dice instead of attempting to rig the game solely to maintain the status quo.
Maintaining the status quo will only give PAS more opportunity to destabilise the opposition and the reality is that even if the opposition is successful in this election and they made compromises with PAS, they would have let a very determined enemy in the gates who could theoretically do more damage than Umno.
Source : S Thayaparan @ Malaysiakini