Nasha likely to go on baiting PAS

(Free Malaysia Today) – The sooner he is sacked, the better it may be for the party.

PAS is playing a dangerous game in its refusal to sack the maverick Nasharuddin Mat Isa over his latest and perhaps most energetic round of Pakatan Rakyat bashing.

Even novice political observers can guess the rationale behind the apparent leniency. Having learnt a lesson from PKR’s sacking of Zahrain Mohd Hashim and Zulkifli Noordin and its own sacking of Hasan Ali, PAS does not want to play Nasharuddin’s game.

Like those three other Umno lackeys, Nasharuddin wants to be sacked rather than tender his resignation because the second option will expose him to accusations that he has been bought by Umno to cheat those who voted him to public office.

Nevertheless, according to insiders, Nasharuddin’s case is slightly different from those of Zahrain, Zulkifli and Hasan. As former deputy president of the party, he is said to enjoy some support from the rank and file, including some members of the Syura Council. PAS does not want to alienate these people.

But insiders who are losing patience with Nasharuddin fear that he will escalate his attacks as the general election gets closer in order to help Umno score points with conservative Malays.

They note that his audacity has grown following the slap on the wrist that he received for criticising PAS’ decision to replace its Islamic state agenda with a welfare state programme. It was for a similar offence that Hasan was sacked. Nasharuddin was merely told to stop making public statements against the change of agenda.

He has largely obeyed that order by the letter, but not by the spirit. Indeed, he has grown more vicious in openly questioning the moral validity of PAS’ continued cooperation with DAP in the Pakatan pact and, more recently, creating doubts about PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Islamist credentials. And he has not been shy of being seen cavorting with Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

When the Syura Council met last month, it was widely anticipated that it would announce some form of action against Nasharuddin. At the very least, some thought, he would be kicked out of that powerful consultative unit of the party. However, party president Abdul Hadi Awang emerged from the meeting only to say that the council did not discuss any action against him.

Risk worth taking

The council’s stance shocked quite a number of members, including some in leadership positions. But a source had in fact told FMT prior to the council session that Nasharuddin was safe because too many of the councillors were “Nasha’s men” – that is, leaders who support the proposal for PAS and Umno to form a “unity government”.

In the last party elections, the so called pro-Erdogan team won most of the central committee positions. But the failure to act against Nasharuddin clearly indicates that the unity-government camp still has control over the PAS leadership, especially through the Syura Council and, some say, the Ulama Council.

But then again, as some would argue, the PAS leadership is perhaps merely fearful of a backfire. For sure, if Nasharuddin were to be sacked, there would be no end to Umno’s spinning of the issue through its newspapers and the public-owned electronic media.

However, if one were to take the long view, it is a risk worth taking.

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