Thursday, November 21, 2013

Can PAS Skirt The Trap?

The PAS’ Muktamar has already kicked off in Shah Alam and the main question is whether Mat Sabu will still remain as the deputy president or will it be Nik Amar taking over instead? We’ve also seen how the mainstream media, especially the Malay dailies as well as a majority of politicians hoping for the “theological” faction of the party to win big in this edition’s Muktamar. 

If one can understand the present political lines in right now, having the theological faction to win is actually, and many still do not know that the party is walking into the trap setup by their rivals, UMNO. UMNO, considering that they have lost much support from their non-Bumi partners managed to scrape through in the general elections. The assessment from the election is that those votes and support are a foregone loss for them. For that reason, the direction that is to be taken by them is that they need to portray themselves as more Malay and Islamic as well.

That sets up the ante for PAS to match them. If PAS is to better them, they need to be more religious and pious in nature by them, hence the theologians must lead the party – according to UMNO’s view. But indirectly, they will lose the support of their non-Malay partners who supported them as the alternative to the non-Bumi BN parties (MCA / MIC). They must understand again and again, that their support is not because people are pro-Pakatan, but a result of frustration and anger over the incompetence of the BN regime.

While I do not have much to comment but to wish that Mat Sabu continues another term as PAS’s no. 2, it is clear that the PAS party must be willing to adopt a more progressive and pragmatic approach in the view that it is now the 21st century and the fact that many people are tech savvy, Gen-Y in particular and no longer place religious and tradition restrictions on them in their quest to pursue their interests and stretching their creativity.

Turkey, in the pre-Erdogan and from the start of the Ataturk period has demonstrated itself as an ideal model society with the rules that the country is predominantly consists of Muslim people. The reason is because that the country’s constitution, as I have written previously, is silent on the official religion of the country. Instead the constitution puts that as neutral, while the Ataturk administration strictly forbids the factor to be included in the daily administrative affairs. As what Ataturk described in his own words, “the religion will be elevated by itself, if it ceases to be a political instrument.”

Should Mat Sabu wins, it can be said as putting UMNO’s trap back to the drawing board and PAS’s successful clearance of a trap hurdle. But their fight is not over for there’s still plenty of members who have yet to understand the real big picture. Their agenda, even as to compete with UMNO will never get past the final hurdle: consent of the Ruler’s council, for the Rulers themselves also have to take into consideration of their non-Malay subjects as well.

The most important thing is right now as what some commentators have said is to get PAS progressives leading the party, rather than walking backwards.

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