The Self Destruction of PAS In the Works

UMNO – in looking to PAS as a spoiler in three way contests has made an assumption that PAS can deliver the votes necessary to clip Harapan candidates at their wings. But if that assumption proves to be false, May 9 will indeed be a day of reckoning for all involved.

By Mustaqim Abdullah

President of Amanah, Mohamad Sabu affirmed that “keimanan tidal boleh diwarisi” (faith cannot be inherited). He wasn’t so much stating a fact as he was pointing to the many instances in Biblical and Islamic history where sons and daughters of religious figures, unfortunately, did fall far away from the proverbial apple tree.

Going around the election circuit now, is the 30 minute audio of Nik Abduh, one of the younger sons of revered Tok Guru Nik Aziz, that the “top leadership of PAS had received money from UMNO.” If proven true in the Hadi Awang versus Clare Brown suit in London, the audio would go down in history as one of the evidences that blighted the spotless reputation of Nik Aziz, albeit through sins of association, not omissions or commissions.

But just when all hopes were lost, Nik Omar, widely regarded as the favoured son of Nik Aziz, emerged as a candidate of Pakatan Harapan on nomination day.

The 14th general election is shaping up to be a titanic contest between care taker Prime Minister Najib and former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Muhammad, with Anwar Ibrajim set to be released on June 8 2018. In such a triangular contest, there is little room for error especially when it comes to stating the party’s policy position firmly. Yet, PAS waffling on 1MDB and other issues, has cast them in bad light. Nik Omar’s defection to Pakatan Harapan is yet another example of the chickens coming home to roost for a party that has found itself, oftentimes, out of touch with even its own grassroots.

In fact the overall strategy PAS has taken may not only lead to what many predict is its obliteration at the polls but also to the self destruction of UMNO. First of all, PAS is experiencing nothing less than what Yale historian Paul Kennedy would call an “imperial over stretch.”

In trying to do too much, with too little resources, PAS has spread itself thin, even if it’s leaders are helped by more exposure on TV3 due to their quasi alliance.

By competing in 160 constituencies, without any major group of political stars, to galvanize the troops on the ground, the message will turn time and again to need to expand the role of Islam. Yet, Amanah, it’s splinter party, has taken the more realistic, and strategic route, of competing in 27 constituencies. Whereas Amanah is not lopsided, and is helped by the machinery of Pakatan Harapan, with Sabu contesting in Kota Raja, Selangor, Amanah is making forays into areas that PAS should be defending.

Second, PAS in the current form is hobbled by its inability to make full use of the aura of the late Nik Aziz. When Nik Omar is touted as the better progeny of Nik Aziz, the soft power of Pakatan Harapan cum Amanah cannot but increase gradually.

Third, members of PAS are quietly distraught with the though of having to help UMNO yet in several cases having to challenge UMNO too. Such inner contradictions do not augur well for a party that aspires—-valiantly but vainly—–to be a “King Maker”.

Finally, PAS is down to the last man standing. If Hadi Awang is gone, as age has caught up with him, PAS would not have a viable bench of actors who can step to the fore of their responsibility. Invariably, the lack of strong leadership and branding would cast PAS to be seen as a bit-player rather than a central actor.

UMNO – in looking to PAS as a spoiler in three way contests has made an assumption that PAS can deliver the votes necessary to clip Harapan candidates at their wings. But if that assumption proves to be false, May 9 will indeed be a day of reckoning for all involved.