Questions over ‘dumping’ of PAS in Sabah polls

Dr Moaz Nair, Free Malaysia Today

PAS has long been established as an Islamist party with the idea of promoting Islam as an ideal platform for governance. PAS has faith in political Islam.

Before this, PAS was against secularism or any other political means to govern the country, let alone work with non-Muslim political parties.

To PAS, political Islam is its pristine goal, even when the world has now seen many Muslim countries fail in their mission by opting for this religio-political stance. Some of these countries have audaciously reverted to secularism and have now separated politics from religion.

In local politics, PAS was at one time so adamant that political Islam should be the definitive saviour of the nation.

They went solo to achieve this mission. Failing in their efforts and losing in many elections, they have decided to abandon their ideals and are now working with Umno, PPBM and even some non-Muslim political parties to seek power.

They wittily claim that this new approach is for the sake of “Muslim-Malay solidarity”. To PAS now, the means justifies the end, abandoning their 60-over years of unwavering ideology of not working with parties that are secular in brand as well as with non-Muslim parties.

Today, by aligning themselves to Umno, Barisan Nasional and also Perikatan Nasional, PAS has in a way soiled its image as an Islamist party they had vouched for earlier. What more when many PAS supporters are now dismayed seeing how PAS is only being made use of by other more dominant parties in BN and PN.

PAS’ real goal in going into politics

PAS leaders have reiterated umpteen times that going into politics is not to win but more of “an obligation to please the Almighty”. Win or lose is not their prime aim as long as they have fulfilled, as they claim, “the Almighty’s decree in sending the message of religion to the people”.

If this is the case, then they should have contested in the Sept 26 Sabah election as well as in some of the past by-elections held after the 14th general election, with or without the support of Umno and PPBM.

Unfortunately, it was reported that Sabah PAS was not even invited to PN’s Sabah election candidate announcement in Kota Kinabalu despite the Islamist party being involved in seat negotiations earlier. Neither was Sabah PAS invited to Umno-BN’s event of the same.

PAS claims to have a significant number of members and supporters in Sabah. By not contesting in the Sabah election, PAS may not be able to convince the electorate that they have their religious mission to accomplish. PAS too has “a missionary duty” to convince the non-Muslims of their intent in politics.

However, what puzzles the electorate more is whether it’s true that politics is not everything to PAS, as often claimed by the party’s president. The electorate is now getting more confused as they do not seem to understand PAS’ real objective in taking on politics.

Some do feel that the party should have stuck to doing proselytising work than getting involved in the dog-eat-dog world of politics. Politics, for that matter, is not an altruistic pitch, unlike religion.

PAS not offered any seat

The fact now remains that despite PAS being allied to PN as well as Muafakat Nasional, they were not offered a single seat to contest in Sabah. PAS was expecting to contest at least 10 seats but now this dream has been foiled by their close allies.

Umno and PPBM, on the other hand, are contesting 31 and 19 seats respectively, leaving PAS with none.

It seems like both PN and Umno have ditched PAS in Sabah for reasons only known to Umno and PPBM. PAS, on its part, is now doing some soul searching as to why they were dumped.

Some PAS leaders claim that contesting in Sabah is going to split votes and this can be unfavourable to Umno and PPBM. However, to many political analysts, this is just sour grapes.

PAS, undeniably, is not that popular in Sabah with its brand of politics. Nevertheless, if Umno and PPBM are best of friends, they could always canvas hard for PAS candidates to win.

Or, could it be because Umno is not happy that PAS has become part of PN, or PN, on its part, is not happy with PAS calling a shot in Sabah for fear that Muslim votes will be split?

But why must PAS give in to demands from PN and Umno when the party’s goal of contesting in elections is only “to spread the message of the Almighty” and not to really win?

Can this also be a hint that PAS will be cast off by PN and Umno in the 15th general election?

Umno is still a formidable force in Terengganu and Kedah. Umno may not want PAS to rule the two states forever. There’s already speculation that Umno may contest against PAS in these two states, at least.

PPBM, however, without strong grassroots support, may not be a threat to the dominance of Umno and PAS in these two states.

No role to play in by-elections

PAS was never once chosen to contest in the 12 by-elections held after the 14th general election, despite being a partner to Umno in Muafakat Nasional. Yet, PAS canvassed and gave its support to Umno-BN candidates despite a few of these candidates being non-Muslim.

In the Balakong and Tanjung Piai by-elections, PAS gave its support to MCA candidates despite the fact that MCA had, reportedly, opposed PAS’ version of the hudud law. Ironically, in the Tanjung Piai by-election, PAS drummed up support for the MCA candidate despite PPBM fielding a Malay-Muslim candidate.

In the latest event, when none of PAS members was chosen to contest the 73 seats in the Sabah election, this can be seen as a big disappointment to PAS supporters.

This Sabah conundrum for PAS cannot be considered a political strategy, as claimed by a senior PAS leader.

PAS supporters now would want to know the actual role of PAS in PN and Muafakat Nasional.

Many disgruntled PAS members are beginning to feel that the party is being made use of only to prop up Umno and PPBM.

It now appears like PAS has to stand alone to accomplish its altruistic religious ideology if it desires to survive in politics and keep its supporters from not abandoning the party.