Is there something “new” about PAS and UMNO “working together” or “cooperating together”? Or for that matter, to see Pemuda PAS conventions wearing “Pakaian Adat Melayu” of “Keris and Tengkolok”?
The truth of the matter is PAS has all along been the party with the Malay as its core agenda (i.e. Nationalistic), with Islam as its cover. And UMNO has always been a nationalist party with the Malay as its core, and the development of the Malay as its cover. In short, both are MALAYS as its core. The relationship between the two would swings like two pendulums: at one time closer and at one time further apart. When both sense that their constituents (which are the Malays) feels threatened, then they will swing to each other. This happened before during the fight for independence from British, as well as after the 13th May 1969 riots. During these times the overriding Malay agenda carries the day and the differences between the two seems to be lessened. But then, when the “threats” are lessened or “not seen”, then the two will start to go back to their original state of being polarised.
The question is could the two (i.e. PAS and UMNO) really work together?
I doubt it. The history had shown that the two had always been at the polarised end of ideology, but yet at the same time, shared the same Malay base (i.e. Malay agenda at its core). One bent on Malay nationalism, and the other is “hardcore” Islamism. Unless you believe that Nationalism and Islamism could be compatible, then the union of the two is possible. But that is not the case and would never be the case. Attempts at reconciling the two had been done by some leaders of PAS and UMNO in the past; and each time they failed miserably (Mohd Asri Muda and Dato’ Onn Ja’far are such examples).
What happened of late (between PAS and UMNO) however deserve some review at the matter – as some would say – both had “repented from their past mistakes” and there is “a good chance that it will work this time around”, and “we can see some sincerity of the other side to truly address the concerns”. These languages seems to dominate some of the current PAS and UMNO leaders.And furthermore, the so-called “Haji Hadi Hudud Private Bill” seems to pave the way forward.
As an observer I found it funny that what happened of late is that PAS has not only “increased” its Islamism mantra, but also being led and dominated with Islamism’s zealots.Whereas UMNO toned down its age old nationalism mantra, and seems to succumbed to Islamism as the way for the Malays. The reality is that both PAS and UMNO are treading on very dangerous, which could be quite damaging, both to the Malays as well as to the Islamic agenda (as opposed to Islamism’s agenda).
Why that is the case? I would say so, because the Islamism agenda in my view, is dangerous and untenable. Take the example of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is a classic case of Islamism combined with “Persian nationalism”. Islamism is defined within a very small circle of “Mullahs”, which could determine what Islam is to be practised based on their interpretation of Islam, as they deemed fit, to any conditions they feel appropriate – with only one thing that is at its core: “in and under the name and label of Islam”.
From my personal point of view – this is incompatible with UMNO and the “true Malay agenda” of UMNO. And for that same reason, UMNO failed in its attempt to work with PAS. And for that matter, PAS has always been the “loner” in its struggle, because of its Islamism. As it is, anybody who want to work with PAS, must subscribe to its form of Islam, that is to be lead by its cleric class or as they labelled it “Kepimpinan ‘Ulama”. The doctrine of its Islam is what the doctrine of it’s Ulama, and whatever it’s Ulama says. This is exactly the same as the Iranian Islamism as I indicated before. (Note that this is nothing to do with the Shi’a doctrines,i.e. I am not saying that PAS belief in Shi’ism or its doctrines).
Therefore, for those who are worried that PAS and UMNO will join hands and be married together – are worrying too much, or giving both PAS and UMNO too much credit for their gestures and manoeuvres. My view is, just let it be; it won’t go much further than what already is. Islamism, as carried by PAS wouldn’t get much more than what they already got in the past (ex-non Muslim’s voters).
Lastly, how about DAP and PAN?
Firstly DAP, should have known or understood from very beginning that PAS is a Malay Islamism party (as opposed to Islamic Party). If DAP understood what that means, then they know that their pact with PAS was futile and will be short-lived. This has proven to be the case. And furthermore, there is no future of DAP-PAS cooperation. And this is good for Barisan Nasional.
Parti Amanah Negara (PAN), consists of people who were rejected from PAS, and joined by Islamist who do not subscribe to PAS’s Islamism. Until now it is not clear whether PAN is carrying the banner of Islam (to rival PAS’s Islamism), or carrying the banner of the Malay Islam (i.e. Islam with Malay agenda), or carrying any agenda at all (beyond to go against PAS or UMNO/BN). With such weak raison d’etre, PAN might not make much impact, and will have a hard time to survive or to thrive.What would be their message to the people? Islam versus PAS? Malay versus UMNO/BN?
How would I predict the current by-elections of Sg. Besar and Kuala Kangsar?
No need to predict. BN will win both comfortably. The number of voters that BN got in the last election would remain the same (i.e. about 50% of votes, assuming same number of voter turnouts); PAS will get half or so of what they got in the last election (i.e. 25% of the votes); and PAN will get the balance (25% of the votes, i.e. opposition voters who voted for PAS candidates the last time around).
The lessons (depending on what you are looking for; and delivered well ahead before the results):
- UMNO do not need PAS, but need to be courteous enough to PAS.
- PAS (if they ever got it), must realise that their Islamism, do have its own following, but will always be limited to that minority.
- PAN, could play the role of disturbing by splitting the votes for the opposition, and hence, the best “ally” of BN.