NOV 20 (TMI) — The just-ended PAS annual general conference (muktamar) has landed Pakatan Rakyat into troubled waters again. What started off on the right footing with Hadi Awang’s presidential address that reflected PAS as a matured partner in solidarity and harmony with Pakatan Rakyat in hot pursuit of Putrajaya has ended in near disaster.
On the first day of the main conference on November 16, Hadi gave much cheer to the entire Pakatan Rakyat alliance and its supporters with a speech that hammered on common agenda and centred on issues conducive to winning the electoral battle ahead. Even delegates debating Hadi’s speech largely skirted the controversial issues of hudud and an Islamic state that could potentially disrupt unity within the Pakatan alliance.
However, this politically pragmatic approach has caused unease with the conservatives, who were disturbed by the lack of mention of implementing hudud and other Islamic agenda, and construed such a trend as deviation from PAS’s original struggle which was to realise an Islamic state.
Spearheaded by the ulamas and the Youth wing, the conservatives mounted a fight back that culminated in delegates vowing to work towards a resounding electoral success that would allow PAS to assume the leading role in the Pakatan alliance with Hadi as prime minister. Such a clamour eventually won the apparent approval of the assembly, with Hadi tacitly going along with the idea.
Little did the delegates in that hour of jubilation realise that such an ending to the muktamar has sent a shock wave through the Chinese community, with which I am in close contact.
The first thoughts that come to their minds are notions of a PAS-dominated government with Hadi as prime minister in the post-Barisan Nasional era.
What followed are uneasy thoughts associated with a country veering towards Islamisation, things like restrictions to alcohol and pork consumption and entertainment, and general conformity to Islamic practices such as gender segregation, dress codes in public places, etc. Above all these is the implementation of the much feared but little understood hudud and the Islamic legal system, with all its vague implications. In short, such a new Pakatan rule is envisaged to adversely alter their present way of life. Accuracy aside, these are common perceptions and initial reflexes of many in the Chinese community.
Needless to say, the electoral backlash to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in general and to PAS in particular is predictable.
Many common Chinese PR-supporters must have been jolted into reflection and self-doubts:
● Am I on the right track in voting PR to power?
● What if PAS really becomes the dominant political force with its leader as prime minister?
● What if the country is transformed into an Islamic state?
These thoughts and doubts, if allowed to nurture and no doubt inflamed by relentless BN propaganda, will culminate in the ultimate question:
To take a risk with PR which may lead to Islamisation of our way of life or to keep the status quo, which no doubt is unpalatable with all its evils of racialism, corruption and abuse of power, but undeniably familiar or even comfortable (to some), having been ruled by such a political power for ages?
My bet is that a sizable portion of this electorate will prefer to remain in the comfort zone which is ruled by “the devil we know”.
But, of course, those well informed of current politics will remain steadfast in their determination to support PR, knowing that the chances of Islamisation in the foreseeable future are slim. This is because the Pakatan alliance works on consensus, and the DAP and PKR would continue to want Anwar Ibrahim to take the premiership in a triumvirate, where PAS is unlikely to predominate.
And yet, there is the third camp of current Chinese PR supporters, who would take the cautious approach of continuing to support PR, but will vote in such a way that PAS will not become dominant. This would mean that these voters, while continuing to vote for PKR and the DAP, will refrain from voting for a PAS candidate to avoid PAS becoming dominant.
Thus PAS will become the first casualty in such an electoral backlash triggered by the muktamar. Many PAS candidates, who may otherwise be able to squeeze through due to overwhelming Chinese support, would now be felled by BN.
Under this scenario, PKR and the DAP may not suffer as much as PAS, but their hopes of reaching Putrajaya will be similarly dashed, as any electoral setback of this size to any of the partners will prove to be fatal to the alliance’s chances of winning a simple majority in such a tight race.
My estimation is that three-quarters of Chinese are currently supporting PR, discounting the adverse impact of the muktamar. On this level of Chinese support, PR will win in the next poll, unless electoral fraud far exceeds those of the last election in 2008.
My sincere advice to all those who yearn to see real changes taking place in this country is to recognise the reality that this is a multi-racial country with Malays forming ony slightly above 50 per cent of the population. It is hence totally unrealistic to force Islamisation on such a country without multi-racial consent.
There is only one future for this country, and that is the government and the people’s full acceptance of multi-culturalism and happy co-existence of religions under a governance that practises universal values of justice and equality.
To those exuberant muktamar delegates who champion PAS as the new ruler with its leader as PM, I urge them to give serious thought to the hard truth that they can only have ONE of the following two options:
● EITHER to rule the country in equal and equitable partnership with PKR and the DAP on the currently agreed common agenda
● OR to continue to force the pace of Islamisation without the expressed consent of other races, in which case, all the three partners of PR will continue to remain in the opposition for God knows how long.
The clock for the next election is ticking, and it is now up to the wisdom of the leaders of Pakatan Rakyat to undo the damage in the shortest possible time.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.