Your next move, PAS?


Hafiz Marzukhi,Astro Awani

While most parents do not encourage their children to spend too much time playing games, my mother, on the other hand, prodded me to master this one traditional board game – chess.

According to my wise mum, it is an ‘intelligent’ game — something that I could benefit from in later life. I guess she knew better.

Of course, back then I did not quite understand. Well, I was only eight. For me, chess was just a boring ‘black-and-white’ version of checkers. I’d rather play Metal Slug on my Playstation.

Obviously, I did not become a chess prodigy but over time, I learned to play the game and eventually came to appreciate its nuances to life itself despite not mastering it entirely.

With that in mind, I have come to realise that the ongoing public spat between the two component parties in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition can be compared to a game of chess.

A game which I believe the current PAS leadership is not adept at.


Benjamin Franklin, in his article ‘The Morals of Chesspublished in the 1700s, said, a game or two of chess, can teach us three things:

– Foresight; which can make a person consider the consequences that may come after an action was taken.

– Circumspection; where one needs to survey the whole chess board or a scene of action and assess the relations between the pieces and its ability to impact a situation.

– Caution; which merely means one should not make a move hastily.

In retrospect, based on what the mantra by the great Benjamin, it appeared that PAS had ‘checkmated’ itself after proposing to sever its ties with its longtime ally DAP at the recently-concluded 61st Muktamar (annual Congress).

The brickbat received by PAS leaderships over their ‘brand-new pro-Ulama’ lineup is nothing short, but overwhelming, so to speak.

Prominent names, such as former deputy president Mohamad Sabu and former PAS central committee member Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa had tendered their resignations for the positions they clinched from the Penang State government not too long ago, had encouraged fellow leaders to follow suit, in accordance with the motion that was accepted during Muktamar without a debate.

The inevitable heat has intensified on the Islamist party president and respectable figure, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang as he should be leading the party towards increasing its political persona in all level of the government.

If the table is turned against Abdul Hadi, the party faces oblivion in the political arena in the country.

Abdul Hadi also needs to fend off scathing remarks made by senior DAP leaders, particularly from the father-and-son duo, Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng.

The younger Lim, who is also the Penang Chief Minister, has clearly said that the resignation of PAS leaders in Penang would not ‘destabilise the state government or impact it negatively’.

For the record, this is his way of saying that PAS’s presence in Penang is deemed insignificant as they do not even have a state executive councillor position there.

Guan Eng is a brilliant strategist and a master at managing the public’s perception. He knows that in the event of an imminent Pakatan Rakyat breakup, the onus is now on PAS.

This will eventually impact the party’s dwindling support among Pakatan loyalists.

Abdul Hadi and his trusted Ulama lieutenants must now scramble to pick up the pieces from this damaging turn of events and move swiftly with caution to unite the party in view of the next General Elections in 2018.

PAS needs to decide whether they can work with DAP within the Pakatan framework.  Or, perhaps, it is time to pursue their struggles independently.

However, the upper echelons of PAS must remember, while they ‘regroup’ for the impending battle on the ‘chessboard’, their enemies are already sharpening their blades, ready to go for the jugular.

It is alright to lose a game of chess, but in politics, you either win or get relegated into obscurity.

Your opponents have made their moves. Check.

Now … it’s your turn, PAS.