Principles or ‘marriage of convenience’ options for Opposition

Photo credit: FMT

Nothing has changed between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and PAS since the break-up of Pakatan Rakyat (PR), although much water has flowed under the bridge.

PRESS STATEMENT One analogy that comes to mind is an European diplomat conceding recently on cable TV that the influx of Syrian refugees, mostly Muslim, has been bad for the continent, Germany in particular which bears the brunt of the burden. Even so, Europe has no intention of abandoning the refugees. “What’s important to us above all, as Europeans, are principles,” said the diplomat. “We stick to our principles even though it’s sometimes bad for us.”

In the long run, he said, it’s the right thing to do.

Likewise, it would be bad strategy if Pakatan Harapan (PH) were to suddenly try to cosy up to PAS in the wake of the two by-elections.

If the renewed fascination for the Islamists is being driven by the need to ensure Opposition unity to defeat the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), then it’s a case of not knowing which side one’s bread is buttered.
It must be remembered that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) fell apart because PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang insisted on exercising veto powers over decisions made by consensus by the PR Leadership Council meetings which he invariably skipped.

Hadi also insisted on misreading the “agree to disagree” policy stand taken by the PR Leadership Council and going solo on the hudud Bill in the Kelantan Assembly and Parliament.

Hadi, according to DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang in recent days, also insisted on being the Opposition’s Prime Minister-designate although PR had settled on Anwar Ibrahim.

There have been other issues on the sidelines like Hadi’s recent statement, in conjunction with the May 7 Sarawak election, that the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak must be Muslim. These states are majority non-Muslim, mostly Christian and Orang Asal. How naive can one be? Hadi also said that the Iban have the cawat and sirat (loin cloth) mindset. Earlier, Hadi had also insisted that the Prime Minister must be Malay and Muslim. This is significant because under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution, not all Muslims are Malays.

Under these circumstances, it doesn’t make sense for PH to mull over bringing back PAS into its fold once again. It’s even more surprising that the call is coming from Amanah which broke away from PAS not so long ago after being defeated, except for one, in the party elections which saw the ulama making an almost clean sweep of all the posts at stake.

Nothing has changed between PH and PAS since the break-up of PR, although much water has flowed under the bridge. So, getting together with PAS once again in the hope of forging a one-to-one electoral pact would be an exercise in futility.

Hadi will not accept PH’s consensus approach to decision making, he will not drop his hudud Bill and he will not accept Amanah.

If PAS stays outside PH but agrees to an electoral pact with the informal Opposition alliance, it can’t be at the expense of Amanah.

The best way forward for PH, notwithstanding its disastrous outing recently in Sarawak and in the two by-elections recently, is to leave PAS out of the equation and take their chances. Let the Islamists too take their chances.

This would clear the way for Amanah to take on PAS in all the seats, parliamentary and state, which the latter now hold and the seats that they contested in 2013 and lost.

PAS, under Hadi, needs to be taken down more than a peg or two, if for nothing else but its unreliability.

Hadi has of course previously threatened to challenge DAP wherever it contests. So be it!

Ultimately, it’s principles that matter. It must be conceded that Barisan Nasional (BN) was right when it warned in 2013 that PR was a “marriage of convenience” united only by their hatred for the ruling coalition.

After one marriage of convenience failed after 2013, there’s no reason to forge another. Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat their mistakes. It must be noted that there was no PR in 2008 when the Opposition parties took on the BN and stripped it of its coveted two-thirds majority in Parliament. So, there’s no reason for the Opposition to have an electoral pact with the Islamists come 2018, come hell or high water.

 

Daniel John Jambun

President

Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim), United Kingdom

 

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