PAS and toppling governments

Emmanuel Joseph

WHO was Abdul Hadi Awang speaking for when he claimed the right to topple the unity government, further arrogantly saying “no party” could stop it from trying to topple the government?

Is this the same PAS president, who in March 2020 called it disrespectful against the king to even call for a vote of no confidence against then prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin?  

Flip flops and the hypocrisy that comes with it are the norm for politicians, but PAS seems eager to bring the practice to new heights.  

The party, which has been in all eight major political alliances since Merdeka – from Barisan Nasional to its present Perikatan Nasional (PN) – has been in on-off relationships with both left wing and right wing, liberal and conservative, tweaking their tone and explanation of what they define as an Islamic ideal country is, as they go along.

It has teamed up, and broken off, respectively with Umno and DAP, yet somehow found the cheek to criticise both parties for cooperating. 

There are fundamental differences too, from when the fundamentalist party chose to criticise the no-confidence motion in 2020, to the situation now.

Muhyiddin’s government was formed after ambitious dissidents overthrew a government overwhelmingly voted in in the past elections, forcing the palace to install them into power instead, while the present Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government was mooted by the palace itself, no doubt with the mind to even include PN, who rejected it, and is now crying foul and proclaiming illegitimacy.

By that inference, this current move against Anwar is even more disrespectful against the king!

Maybe PAS and Hadi were emboldened by PAS’ strong performance in the last general election.

Yet, as he evoked democracy, it should also be pointed out that Pakatan Harapan democratically won, by popular vote – the total number of votes, as well as by number of seats – more than PN. So, in what sense is this an undemocratic government? 

PAS should instead look at itself and its alliance. 

PAS two-pronged approach and the rather muted presence of Dewan Pendukung PAS this time around, compared with 2008. Dewan Pendukung too, is seen largely as peripheral to the main body of PAS, rather than an equal partner.

Most of the administrative positions held by the supporters’ club leaders are as “special officers” and “special advisers”, which could be read by the non-Muslim electorate that PAS does not view them as partners but as tolerable friendlies or allies.  

PN failed to garner the non-Muslim vote. This wasn’t DAP’s fault and it isn’t rocket science to see why not. 

Gerakan is seen as nothing more than a muppet poster child to lend some semblance of multiracial credentials to PN, with its president being ferried around to grace press conferences, share the stage and give awkward hugs to PAS leaders. 

Bersatu, via its remnant PKR, Sabah Umno and Warisan members, have some non-Muslims within their ranks but they have been largely panned and labelled as “traitors”.

The new faces had the unfortunate luck to be faced off against big names in DAP and PKR amid an urban political temperature that was unfriendly to newcomers, particularly to PN, halting their progress and denying them a platform for visibility in national politics. 

Until PAS and PN work out these issues, it will not likely command a multiracial support base, necessary to administer Malaysia, not only from a socio-political perspective, but a practical one.

We have tried and experimented with a dominant Malay-Muslim administration, twice, and they both collapsed, not by subversion of aggrieved political parties, but sheer unsustainability. 

It is time to go back to our tried and tested formula, without interference, and it is time for politicians to place nation above party and statesmanship above ambition. – March 8, 2023.

* Emmanuel Joseph firmly believes that Klang is the best place on Earth, and that motivated people can do far more good than any leader with motive.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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