(The Choice) - Put simply, PAS had no choice. If it doesn't stand shoulder to shoulder with the other members of Pakatan Rakyat on key issues, then the entire edifice falls to the ground.
PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar must feel good now that she can pick up the newspapers each day and see that she is no longer front page news. She endured a storm of protest over her alleged "freedom of religion" comments, but after a long and testing week, the story seems to have run its course.
But that might not be the case for everyone. Because while Nurul Izzah might rightly think the affair has blown over, PAS has paid a high price for backing her and could continue to do so up to GE13.
Put simply, PAS had no choice. If it doesn't stand shoulder to shoulder with the other members of Pakatan Rakyat on key issues, then the entire edifice falls to the ground. That said, this one must have been particularly galling for them. Not only do her alleged comments about whether Muslims can choose their faith strike right at their religious core, but the person charged with speaking up for her was none other than PAS spiritual leader and Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who described the issue as "unfortunate".
"Unfortunate" - was that really the best he could do? Others were also wheeled out to defend her, including PAS central committee member Dzulkefly Ahmad PAS National Unity Bureau chairman Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa. Both adopted the line that she was a victim, cruelly misquoted by the media.
The intervention by PAS worked in the short term in that the party's conservatives didn't break ranks and the Pakatan coalition was still in one piece – last time we looked.
But it isn't over yet. As predicted by The Choice, the issue is now playing into the hands of Barisan Nasional much to the discomfort of the PAS leadership. Religious adviser to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Abdullah Md Zin picked up the matter this week and he made sure Nurul Izzah wasn't the main focus of his comments.
"It is regrettable that PAS leaders, like PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, do not want to correct the statement made by Nurul Izzah on religious freedom," he said, a reference to the fact that by offering some wishy-washy words to keep Pakatan happy, they had turned down the chance to take a stand on behalf of Islam.
So the story has indeed moved on – but PAS is still paying the price. And this creates problems that won't go away before GE13, because PAS's pitch to the rakyat has always been clear. PAS is the party that is true to Islam – more so than Umno and a lot more so than those chattering urbanites at PKR.
Read more at: http://www.thechoice.my/top-stories/63090-long-after-the-nurul-izzah-furore-pas-could-still-pay-a-high-price