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PAS’ annual congress will end today. The Malaysian Insight lists four things that stood out at the party’s gathering in Alor Setar, Kedah.

‎1) Najib Razak was the biggest winner‎

He is 2,440km away in from the main hall in Alor Star where the PAS annual assembly is taking place, but arguably, Umno president and PM Najib Razak has emerged as the biggest winner at this year’s gathering.

PAS’ decision to go it alone dovetails perfectly with his election plans ‎of promoting multi-cornered fights and splitting the Opposition vote in GE14.

Umno insiders say that Najib, who is in Manila for the 30th Asean Summit, has forged a strong personal bond with PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang, a man who once regarded Umno politicians as infidels. They speak regularly and often about promoting the Islamic agenda in Malaysia.

And while Najib was unable to table the controversial bill to enhance Shariah punishments, Hadi was appreciative that the PM did the next best thing: gave PAS the floor of Parliament to sell the proposed legislation and postponed voting in the House that would have certainly killed the Bill.

PAS and Umno may be out for the same Malay vote bank but Hadi doesn’t view Najib as a political enemy. When he looks at Najib, he sees someone who will be able to maintain strong Malay power and defend Islam, and strike up a mutually beneficial relationship with PAS. He also sees someone who shares his disdain for DAP, Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Amanah.

‎1MDB may be a big issue in urban Malaysia but it didn’t get much of a mention at the PAS muktamar. Azmin Ali, Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the DAP were cast as villains at the annual congress.

Najib? He wasn’t on anyone’s hit list at the PAS meet. How times have changed? ‎

2) Abdul Hadi Awang is all powerful‎

Make no mistake, this is Hadi’s party. He is so powerful in PAS today that even though some party veterans know that the go-it-alone strategy for GE14 could result in the Islamic party being thrashed in West Malaysia and losing its crown jewel, Kelantan in the process, they will keep their counsel to themselves.

His son is the new youth chief and those from the conservative spine of the party hold all the key positions in PAS. ‎

Even though a residue of progressives remain in PAS, they are just that, residue; insignificant and at the bottom.

Hadi is all powerful in PAS today – so powerful that he is able to lead them down a path to possible election defeat without even a whimper of protest.‎

‎‎‎3) The ‘you have to be kidding’ moment

Want to know how detached the PAS leadership is from the rest of the country?

Just read Page 10 of the PAS president’s speech at the opening of the congress. He talks about the green tsunami hitting Malaysia during GE14 and envisages Malaysians of all races and religion backing PAS to bring about a revolution of harmony.‎

He must be living in a different Malaysia. Before PAS joined forces with PKR and DAP, it didn’t have a presence in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The mere thought of the party was sufficient to spook non-Muslim voters.‎

Only when they joined Pakatan Rakyat and adopted the broad agenda of reform, did many Malaysians vote for their candidates. Even then, ethnic Chinese and Indians shed their inhibition toward PAS only because the party spoke the same language of change that Anwar Ibrahim did.

When PAS left Pakatan Rakyat, the non-Malays deserted them. In the Sungai Besar by-election, the PAS candidate only managed to obtain less than 5% of the non-Malay vote.

Hadi is dreaming if he believes that non-Malays are going to be supporting his green tsunami.

His attempt to splice his speech with talk of good governance, justice and a more mature political culture‎ won’t wash with voters who know what Hadi represents.

His party only obtained a large swathe of the vote bank in 2008 and 2013 because they were part of something bigger that excited Malaysians.

‎Hubris can do that to anyone – it can make you forget the reality.

‎‎4) Why go into a marriage that will definitely end in a divorce?

Would you continue marry a man or a woman with whom you have little in common? No.

Would you be willing to continue a courtship with someone who doesn’t like your parents; doesn’t think much of your principles and believes that he or she is superior in every way? No.

Yes, news that PAS will contest the coming election under the Gagasan Sejahtera banner is a major body blow to PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), the two Malay-based political parties in the Opposition.

The weight of history is against the coalition of PKR, DAP, Amanah and PPBM defeating Barisan Nasional in the coming election where the norm will be three-cornered contests. ‎

Why? Because the competing Opposition candidates will cancel out each other, paving the way for the Umno candidate to emerge victorious.

But there is something worse than defeat in an election. It is much worse to trample on your principles and sell your soul and your countrymen just for a taste of power. — May 1, 2017.

 

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