Friday, June 3, 2011

PAS at Crossroads

It is interesting to watch the PAS's general assembly, due to be held this weekend from tomorrow onwards. This mainly is due to the election, where it bits candidates from both sides. One side is the so called "scholars" side, while the other one, as some called as the Erdogan faction, would be the professionals side. Political contests can be seen as of a fight to see who gets into power. It is also a battle of ideologies, and classes. That's the two classes that will be battling out in the PAS election. PAS is merely a the minority bourgeois of the Malays while the rest of the pie is UMNO's to own.

There have been people inside PAS that have been considering the strong merits of forming a unity partnership with their archrivals. There have been people within that feels that they can get their own big piece of the action by becoming persons like ministers, top-level officials by the unity project of UMNO. These kind of people are not only in just one party but all within the Pakatan coalition. 

The most interesting posts to be watched out in the PAS general assembly is generally those of the vice-president posts and the deputy president posts. Of all, the one to be watched out is the contest between the incumbent deputy president, Nasarudin Isa against Mat Sabu and Tuan Ibrahim Man. The deputy presidency post is very important to watch out because, this will determine the direction of the party it will be heading to. If the party wishes to move one level up and be on the same level of standards like DAP is trying to, they must have a mix blend of leadership with professionals and scholars in it. 

It has been noted that the Hadi-Nasa team has been giving much problems even to the Pakatan coalition mainly because it exposes one of the weaknesses in the coalition. Secondly, it gives a political opportunity for UMNO to push for unity with PAS over the religion factor. This has been repeated many times over and over again, as spoken by several UMNO top men, including Najib, Muhyiddin, Ahmad Maslan. Today's Youth postings have all been filled up by allegedly those under the "unity favor" group. This may not go well for the party and coalition in the upcoming months.

There have been word circling around that the "unity project" is actually going behind the scenes, and to make it happen, they need to have the Hadi-Nasa leadership ahead. Utusan has been actively campaigining for the Hadi-Nasa outcome there. But chances are Nasa could be losing in the race, given that the number of divisions have that nominated Mat Sabu is far more than Nasa. With that possibility, Tuan Ibrahim is considered to be the insurance policy. He only came in last minute, largely due to the persuasion of some of the quarters in PAS, starring at the possible scenario, and to spoil Mat Sabu's chance of winning.

Perhaps this screen garb will make the point. This title is UMNO's agenda of the week. They wished for it to happen. But the only thing that stands in the goal is Nik Aziz and Anwar Ibrahim. Both are very much against that unity idea. Note: see also results on Google ("Anwar pengaruh minda orang PAS")

It is important to understand, even before the contest began, of where both Mat Sabu and Nasaruddin Hassan stands at. For Mat Sabu, he may be a non-scholar but where he stands is where he gains most of the respect. If you have seen him in several marches and protests around KL and other places, that's what he's representing: the common people. Economically speaking, he can represent the lower and middle-class people from farmers, petty traders, retirees and even professionals who have yet to reach to a million ringgit of income. Where does a scholar stand in the political economic scenario? Not much, but merely a brand name to sell a concept. That's all.

I've seen Mat Sabu in several protests on video or on the street and clearly he represents the common people especially those oppressed. During his speech in Subang Jaya recently, he had spoken of how he had helped his comrade Lim Guan Eng in many cases that benefited everyone. He's also one who is against the unity government idea that the faction in PAS is in favor of. He is seen as a big influence in the coalition. Nasarudin is seen by some as didn't have the proper fighting spirit as Mat Sabu demonstrates, but instead has the telltale signs and impression of collaboration with UMNO, although he would clearly deny it upfront. Ibrahim Man, is more or less the "expendable choice", as long as to keep Mat Sabu away from the Number 2 post.

Nasharudin Mat Isa walau pun dalam Parti Pas tetapi memiliki niat dan mimpi untuk menjadi borjuis besar - borjuis nasional. Cita-cita untuk menjadi borjuis nasional ini hanya akan termakbul jika sekiranya Pas dan United Malays National Organisation dapat bersatu dan bekerjasama dalam satu perserikatan yang baru. Penyatuan ini dibawah lambang Perpaduan Melayu. - Hishamuddin Rais

In order for PAS to go one level up and mature further as well as becoming a strong PR component, Mat Sabu should win the Number 2 post. Not only it shuts off the "Malay unity" project off strongly, it also gives a worthy alternative to the qualities of Nik Aziz, in case if anything goes wrong with the Spiritual leader himself, not to mention of his old age. Secondly, it also allows a mixture of better thinking professionals to be involved actively in the leadership and demonstrate via image that the party is not a Taliban-style party. Third, it also gives PAS more bite to go against its archrival UMNO. With Hadi-Nasa, the party has become a bogeyman target used by MCA and UMNO in the past by-elections, particularly in Tenang. 

However, this posting, written just in time prior to the PAS general assembly is to sum one thing: looking into the future and giving more credibility to having a good competition between two coalitions, Mat Sabu should be given the chance to reach the leadership level to help all the three parties together. Where can we find one of a good, prospective opposition leader like Mat Sabu in future, when Anwar cannot lead someday?

Having Mat Sabu as number 2 is a valuable political strategem against UMNO. PAS should also leverage on the EIU analysis that the middle-class Malays hardly support UMNO. Quoting Malaysian Insider:

Its latest country report on Malaysia said that the “decline in support may have intensified” among middle-class Malays due to Internet sites “exposing government corruption and political intrigues of individual members of the ruling administration.”

“Although voters in the rural heartland of Peninsular Malaysia continue to support Umno, there have been suggestions that the party has lost the support of a significant number of educated, liberal middle-class Malays,” the research arm of the London-based Economist weekly said.

But the EIU also warned that “conservative Malays have meanwhile been voicing concerns about the government’s plan to reform policies favouring Bumiputera (ethnic Malays and other indigenous peoples), as they believe that the special rights accorded to them in the constitution may be rescinded.”

Racial and religious tension has escalated of late with right-wing Malays accusing the Chinese community of trying to usurp political power.

PAS is in the crossroads now. It is now up to the grassroot people to vote who should be leading PAS with Hadi. Vote for the wrong person, and see the party failing instead of moving to higher ground and heights. It is wrong as what Professor Aziz Bari said to have an entirely scholar faction to lead the party alone. A grassroot leader should decide on whether to vote for which class of people: the oppressed ones, thus living by the principles of justice and fairness as dictated in Islam and its values or merely supporting the elite cabal and losing the dignity in the long run.

Note: Read also the speech by benefactor Koon Yew Yin. Excerpt:

Let me begin by posing a question. The question that I and many other Malaysians want to ask PAS is, how will PAS help the country and ordinary Malaysians take the right road to a brighter and harmonious future? Which is the road that PAS and its leaders want Malaysians to follow?

Let me tell you which will be the wrong road. The wrong road is one which aims at setting up a religious state. The wrong road is the one which seeks to “Arabise” our country or wants to “out-Islamicise” Umno.

The fact is that we are a multi-religious and multi-racial country with a constitution based on the principle that Malaysia is a secular state and with Article 3 providing for Islam as the religion of the federation. This is a principle that all Malaysians accept and no party should undermine in any way.

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