Monday, 2 March 2015

What is the real PAS?

Sin Chew Jit Poh
28 February 2015
When you buy something, you want to know exactly what you are going to get. If I buy a car, I want to get a car and not a bicycle. Simple common sense right?


The same applies to politics. When we vote, we want to know what we are voting for. And I am not talking about election promises here. I don’t think there is a single party that has not made promises and then broken them once they get into power.


When that happens, the voters will have a choice of not voting for these promise breakers in the next election. Or, worse still, if political parties break their promises too often, then you will get a citizenry who are totally disenchanted with the democratic process and they may choose not to take part at all.


This is a problem in the UK where many young people feel so disillusioned and disgusted with what they perceive to be the two faced nature of politicians that they have chosen not to go to the ballot box at all.


But this is not what I am talking about really. What I want to discuss here is the very nature of the political party itself.


Naturally a political party can change its character. The example I can think of is the Labour Party in the UK. For decades it was a left wing party with its main support coming from the labour movement and those with socialist leanings. This all changed under Tony Blair.


In the mid-nineties he brought the party towards a centrist position and by relabeling themselves New Labour and distancing themselves from their more militant past, they appealed to a broader group of the electorate including the more conservative elements of British society.


The success they had was a result of this reinvention and also because people were sick and tired of the Conservative party. This sense of being totally fed up with the seemingly endless rule of the Tories meant that left wingers who may have felt that Tony and gang were going too far and destroying the very fabric of the Labour party, swallowed their misgivings and supported them none the less.


Does this sound familiar?


Of course it does. For the last two general elections PAS has portrayed themselves as an inclusive party. No longer the Islamic firebrands of the past, they were now a moderate party determined to deal with issues of common concern like corruption and good governance.

Indeed they put aside the Islamic State rhetoric and focussed on the idea of the Welfare State. This move was tremendously successful. Not only with regard to election results which saw the opposition coalition winning more votes and seats than ever before but also in the general attitude towards PAS.


They were embraced by those not normally counted as their supporters. This affection was so heartfelt that non-Muslim PAS Supporters clubs sprang up and during political rallies it was very common indeed to see people of all faiths waving that familiar green and white flag.


And now, well, we don’t know anymore. It is no secret that PAS is divided between the progressives (whom I believe still hold to the idea of this “new” PAS) and the conservatives who long for a return to the old days. They seem to also long to go to the past when they and UMNO were partners. There is talk of joining with UMNO and putting Hudud law through Parliament thus changing the very fabric of our legal system.


Now I have absolutely no problem with a political party campaigning for what they want. If you believe in the democratic system you will defend to the very end the right of anyone to stand on whatever platform they wish even if you disagree with them, and I believe in the democratic system.


My point is this, before the next general election, it is the duty of PAS to tell us, if we vote for them which PAS are we voting for. Anything less will be dishonest.

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