Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad knows well that his one-month ultimatum to the existing PAS leadership will never be met with cooperation from the Islamist party.
By now, Dr Mahathir should have known that PAS is not sincere about cooperation with the new Pakatan Harapan. In fact, it was PAS which destroyed what was the old Pakatan Rakyat.
PAS was campaigning independently during the last two by-elections in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar; so what makes Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) so confident that it would be able to attract PAS to iron out an agreement with Pakatan Harapan?
Instead, it is time for Pakatan Harapan, if it is serious about winning in the next general election, to work with political parties in East Malaysia to work out stronger collaboration than to waste any more time on a bunch of ‘religious bigots’ who cannot even get their mathematics correct.
It is also important that Bersatu continues to woo the Umno grassroots to ensure a victory in the coming general election. As we see it, there are waves of Umno leaders and grassroots who will be leaving Umno soon.
We can expect Umno to be further weakened after the mass exodus of its members to a number of other political parties.
Let PAS remain a ‘loser’
PAS is no longer the same as the PAS that we knew in the last general election, especially since the party was helmed by Abdul Hadi Awang.
We have already seen the exodus of many of its seasoned and charismatic leaders such as Mohamad Sabu (also known as Mat Sabu) who left the party to form Amanah. What is left are people who are seemingly less than intellectuals, whose focus is no longer on turning Malaysia into a better nation for all, but to push its own narrow agenda.
Hadi cannot be counted on to lead PAS to greater victory in East Coast states; therefore, he is forced to work with the enemy to achieve his objective of eventually imposing hudud laws in Kelantan.
We have seen how PAS is handling deforestation and the Orang Asli community. They are no better than Umno leaders when it comes to protecting the rights of the minority. We can see from the conflict with the Orang Asli community that PAS leaders in Kelantan are not seemingly people-centric and are unwilling to hold roundtable discussions.
To say the least, in Selangor, PAS leaders themselves appear as ‘hypocrites’. While they have publicly vowed that they would not work with the DAP and Amanah, they chose to remain as part of the Selangor state government despite the presence of both DAP and Amanah leaders.
Its state commissioner Iskandar Abdul Samad and a couple of other PAS members are still holding exco positions when they should have given these up after the departure of PAS from Pakatan Rakyat.
Umno needs PAS
It is obvious from the numerous moves made by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak that Umno needs the support of the PAS grassroots in order to remain afloat.
Although Malay dominance in politics will remain unchanged, Malay votes are currently split between PKR, Umno, PAS and Amanah. Those who support both PKR and Amanah will continue to vote for Pakatan Harapan, while some of Umno’s own grassroots supporters may not choose to vote for Umno or Barisan Nasional (BN) in the coming general election.
This is why Najib has been trying to woo PAS supporters to ensure that the collaboration between the two parties will yield positive wins in constituencies contested by Umno or other BN component parties. The strategy is to use religious issues to blur the lines separating Umno and PAS, while creating a strong hatred against the DAP.
In some constituencies where the DAP is contesting head on against a BN candidate, it is hoped that the PAS grassroots will vote for the BN candidate. To PAS, DAP is anti-Islam, whereas a vote for BN will be a step closer to the implementation of the hudud laws.
But, unlike being treated as equal in Pakatan Rakyat in the past, PAS as a party will not make its advances politically or take on a new state. It can only play second fiddle to Umno in Malaysian politics.