Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali risks being sidelined if he continues to play the devil’s advocate in Pakatan Harapan.

Yesterday, when PAS ulama treasurer Khairuddin Aman Razali said that PAS from the outset are not interested in any form of political cooperation with Pakatan Harapan, it was a slap on Azmin’s face.

At the eleventh hour, Azmin is still trying to dance with the Islamist party led by Abdul Hadi Awang instead of entering into the garrison to further strengthen Harapan’s position to defeat BN.

Beggar boy

In short, Azmin has been the one begging for the cooperation from the Islamist party. He had kept the few PAS state excos in his state administration, despite PAS dropping out of the then Pakatan Rakyat.

The people of Selangor may find themselves bitten once, and it will be twice shy if Azmin continues to walk down the path trying to woo PAS and being foolhardy in defying the latest one-line statement issued by PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail on any form of collaboration with PAS.

A source close to Azmin said that because of his ego, Azmin may risk being sidelined not only by his own party but also by his colleagues in Harapan.

In many ways, Azmin has been the beneficiary of the hard work of former Opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim. While the former is in prison, the latter is now menteri besar of the richest state in the country.

The source, a voter within Azmin’s own constituency, said that if Azmin is not careful, he may even lose the support of his own party supporters who are aligned to Rafizi Ramli and William Leong.

The source said that unless these few leaders close rank before the next general election, there is a chance that even Azmin may have a tough time defending his seat.

Because of Azmin’s insistence that he could still negotiate a political cooperation with PAS at the eleventh hour, the non-Muslim votes may not necessarily go to Harapan, especially in Gombak, where Azmin is the incumbent member of parliament.

At worse, they may not turn up for the coming general election. But the source, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, said it would mean all the years of hard work by both Opposition and NGOs such as Bersih – not to forget people like Anwar and Teoh Beng Hock’s sacrifices – would just go down the drain.

“It may take another 50 years for the momentum to be whipped up again,” he said. “It will not be any easier to build up the momentum again. Therefore, Azmin has to better think twice. Instead of trying to live up to his own political ego, Azmin needs to listen to the sentiments of the voters.”

Being sensitive

The same source also agreed that most urban voters would still back Harapan until it is strong enough to take over Putrajaya. Although they do not necessarily show it by turning up in big droves to the ceramah, they know who they have to remove from Putrajaya.

“This is why by dancing with PAS, Azmin may be in for a political suicide,” he added. “The voting patterns have changed.”

An online survey carried out by Malaysiakini also showed that most readers are not in favour of any political cooperation with Hadi’s PAS.

Former Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson, Ambiga Sreeneevasan, told Malaysiakinithat a three-cornered fight will likely mean that BN has the advantage.

She quoted a few examples in the past which proved this to be true; however, she has not taken into consideration the Mahathir factor in 14GE.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s influence on his loyalists is still very strong. With the character assassination of the former prime minister, it could lead to a paradigm shift in voting patterns (or what is otherwise known as a Malay tsunami), where three-cornered fights may benefit Harapan more than Umno or BN. In the process, of course, PAS will be thrashed.

Besides in past general elections, the people had not felt the full impact of the 1MDB scandal and the gloomy economic outlook.

The goods and services tax (GST) which was introduced in 2015, has taken two-and-a-half years before the escalating cost of living became full-blown, and impacted on the lives of the ordinary people.

Look at the lack of the “fanfare mood” of Merdeka Day and you can already sense where the people are with regards to the government’s call for greater patriotism.

By now, the impact of GST has affected mostly the lower income group in the rural areas. In the past, they could get away with taxes on their take-home pay, but now, they have to pay six percent on top of every good or service that they purchase.

The GST has also impacted on the middle income group. Besides paying income tax, now they have to fork out the additional six percent in GST.

Therefore, it is not hard to imagine that under the current circumstances, if every voter comes out to vote, PAS may itself find itself in the quagmire in three-cornered fights.

PAS does not have a good record as proven from their decision to field their candidate in the Kota Damansara constituency during the last election; therefore, no one can guarantee that they will not backstab their coalition partners in the next.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

– M’kini