Malays need well-rounded leaders in PAS
In the case of PAS, the party wants to establish a system of government based on Islamic laws and practices, or alternatively to establish a welfare state for the betterment of Muslims and the nation. However, ideals and reality are two different things. Leaders may have the ideals but it is the people who live with reality.
Any organization such as a political party is formed by groups of people who share the same ideals, objectives and cause, and has its own means to achieve its vision. Hence, every political party is formed for reasons of its own. The call by a veteran DAP politician that all parties should go multi-racial is definitely not practical and not in tune with reality. Any party can pursue its own cause and chooses its own means to attain its objectives as long as it acts and operates within the perimeters of the law and the norms of democracy. In the case of PAS, the party wants to establish a system of government based on Islamic laws and practices, or alternatively to establish a welfare state for the betterment of Muslims and the nation. However, ideals and reality are two different things. Leaders may have the ideals but it is the people who live with reality. Hence a party should pursue its idealistic objectives within the environment of the real world.
Expectations in an election
In the 5th May 2013 GE, the unimpressive performance of PAS was below expectations compared to its two partners where it managed to grab only 21 parliamentary seats out of 73 seats contested. The big question is, what had gone wrong? In any GE there would be different expectations for the respective contesting parties –
1) Some expect a victory then win, in which case they are likely to continue with their winning strategy. For those who expect a victory but lose, have to do the ‘muhasabah’ – a general and self appraisal on the mistakes/weaknesses that derailed their expected performance.
2) Those who anticipate defeat then lose have to rectify their weaknesses before and after the GE. But for parties that expect to lose but instead win, need to look at the mistakes of their opponents.
3) There are those who cannot accept defeat. They will use all means available to avert the anticipated unacceptable course of reality. Reality is very much related to Qadha’ and Qadar (fate and destiny). A political organisation that cannot accept reality is one that believes in and practices the power of dictatorship and extremism which are both detrimental to the nation. It will sabotage the electoral process by resorting to a long list of cheating tactics in order to change the election outcome to its favor. This was UMNO’s strategy to win the 13th GE at all costs by manipulating the election process of the 13th GE to it’s advantage. The same modus operandi is expected to be adopted in the next 14th GE. UMNO dirty tactics was partly responsible for PAS’ unexpected failure to gain more seats.
4) A third force could upset the anticipation of victory of certain contestants. In a concocted faulty election system, the disadvantaged parties are fighting against the partisan election body and contesting against the favoured opponents! Even if the Pakatan Rakyat could have performed better, the massive fraud in the 13th GE strategized by the Election Commission in tandem with UMNO subversions would trounce Pakatan Rakyat and give victory to UMNO. Hence, the people should realize that the defeat of PR is not so much by UMNO/BN itself but rather in the hands of the Election Commission! The latter only awarded the victory to UMNO/BN. A party can rectify it’s own weaknesses but how do you rectify a faulty election system that was engineered by the election agency and the executive government themselves? The options left are to go after the EC relentlessly, use the might of people’s power and apply the mechanism of check and balance of parliamentary democracy.
PAS needs to carry out the ‘muhasabah’ (general and self-appraisals) of its mistakes and strategies.
The party has failed on three counts –
i) Too idealistic
PAS’ struggle is more on the ideals of Islam but overlooks real issues affecting the daily lives of all Malaysians. It failed to present a practical comprehensive Islamic system of government and could not provide proposals and solutions to tackle economic and national issues. Instead, PAS continued to harp on the hudud. Being part of the Syariah Law, it is in essence a religious matter rather than a religious issue, thereby not so much related to the day-to-day problems of the people. Furthermore, it is limited to acts of crime which many young people are less interested in. PAS should have presented a realistic comprehensive Islamic system that covers many issues namely the Islamic banking and finance system, the zakat/Islamic taxation system and others, and to tackle many social, national and economic issues that are related to the religion.
ii) Well-rounded leadership traits
The three great qualities of a leader are wisdom, intellectualism and learnedness. These virtues cannot be acquired through academic knowledge alone, but rather through experiences in life as one goes through it’s trials and tribulations. Common sense (akal) is the foundation of wisdom that leads to logical thinking thereby enhancing one’s reasoning power to enable him to attain the virtue of wisdom. A wise man is one who understands an issue/problem and makes the right decision. Intellectualism comes from the on-going process of learning and understanding important matters making him an expert in those fields. A learned person has an in-depth knowledge of certain/various disciplines, thereby he is often consulted on these matters. Leaders with these 3 virtues can lead the people and nation to greater heights. A cleric with academic religious knowledge, but without these virtues would not make a good leader. The display of the well-rounded good leadership qualities by the party was not convincing enough.
iii) Religious matters and issues
There are differences between religious matters and issues. Religious matters are specific and relate to the Muslim community while religious issues affect the ummah and related to national issues. Hence, using religious matters to gain support is not right. PAS should not use religious matters such as the hudud law to gain popularity. There are many religious issues that are related to national issues such as the Islamic system of banking and finance, the Islamic taxation system and the role of religious institutions such as Tabong Zakat and Baitulmal to redistribute the nation’s wealth. Even national issues like poverty and crime, employment, housing, infrastructure, moral issues, etc. that need to be tackled are related to the religion too. The people want to see how PAS leaders can tackle these issues. But if PAS dwells on religious matters only, then the people will lose confidence in the party and eventually regard the party as not relevant with reality. PAS should revamp the role of Islamic institutions such as the Islamic banks and other finance bodies, Tabong Zakat and Baitumal to enhance the ummah economic position in terms of promoting redistribution of wealth, investment, savings, etc. The standard zakat tax rate of 2.5% (rates could vary) yearly on all kinds of profits, incomes and assets (domestic and abroad) on the rich/well-to-do Muslims, if managed efficiently according to the syariah law could hit more than one billion ringgit per year!
iv) DAP the cause of PAS’ failure?
Many PAS supporters felt that PAS’ close association with DAP was one of the causes of poor support from the Malays. Thereby, many are calling for the party to leave the Pakatan partnership. However, judging by the voting trend, PAS candidates received good support from non-Muslim voters meaning the latter had no problem with Islam. However, the Malays had hoped that PAS being a Malay and Muslim based party could be the alternative to UMNO, able to lead the coalition like UMNO leading the BN, but it failed to take that crucial role.
We may conclude that unlike PKR and DAP who received strong support from voters of all races, the Malay voters’ confidence in PAS took a dip. If PAS chooses to go it alone in the 14th GE , it would be a disaster!