The political animal that is PAS once again treated Malaysians with another farcical chapter in the long-standing saga of their co-called planned dialogue or muzaqarah with UMNO.
When PAS’ president, Dato’ Sri Abdul Hadi Awang, announced that they were open to dialogue with Muslim NGOs including UMNO as recently as May 13 2012, UMNO was as surprised as everybody else with this turn of events. And why not?
Wasn’t it as recently as the last PAS Muktamar (or AGM) that those co-called ‘wets’ in the PAS leadership, receptive to the idea of a cordial working and political relationship with UMNO for the sake of the Ummah, were totally ousted and replaced by the party’s Anwaristas?
Never mind the labels such as the Ulamaks and the Professionals, or else why did we witnessed two so-called representatives of the Ulamaks challenging each other for the No 2 spot in the party hierarchy (despite one being the incumbent, comfortable in a suit as he is in the garb so typical of PAS stalwarts, and the skullcap), thus allowing the representative of the Professionals (as my Chinese friend would often say, really ah?), he of the oh so colourful vocabulary every so often littered with profanities, sneaking through to win the coveted position. (Now, isn’t that a kick to the head?)
And wasn’t it at the last PAS Muktamar that the PAS leadership ruled out any sort of relationship with UMNO? And lambasting UMNO for daring to even entertain the idea of having a dialogue with them. And yet, months later, here we are again, wondering just what is PAS up to now with the latest offering of a muzaqarah.
Of course, theories abound as to what PAS’ real intentions were, with the offer of a muzaqarah. With the PRU13 just around the corner (still waiting for the announcement though), is this one of PAS’ tactics to hedge their bets, in case their bed partner DAP hogs the blanket thus leaving them feeling cold in the cool early morning breeze. Afterall, talks like this would normally take place AFTER a PRU and not BEFORE.
But lo and behold, after all the ensuing excitement and confusion, all has now been clarified. Dato’ Sri Abdul Hadi has come forward to claim that he was misquoted (in a long series of misquotation) or misunderstood (Note : standard equipment for reporters covering political leaders nowadays include a tape recorder) and that he was only referring to Muslim NGOs and not UMNO when he made that statement.
Of course, by the time Dato’ Sri Abdul Hadi was able to grab the microphone back (and maybe salvage his position as leader of the party) to confirm that he was misquoted or misunderstood, Malaysians were already treated to the sight of the Kelantan Menteri Besar, who doubles up as the party’s spiritual leader, in the full glare of TV cameras, welcoming the dialogue with UMNO saying that it was to the benefit of the Ummah before torpedoing it with his set of conditions for the dialogue or muzaqarah to take place. As for anyone else in the party, they can set their own conditions, but these are his conditions, and they include ‘Why UMNO rejects Islam?’. And yet they say that the Kelantan Menteri Besar is not a consummate politician. But partisan nevertheless, mind you.
Naturally, this being the state of events developing, the list of conditions will of course be expected to grow longer if left unchecked. And so it was with a huge sigh of relief when Dato’ Sri Abdul Hadi put an end to whole charade by claiming that he was misquoted. Again. And so end the farce. For now, that is.
It must be a VERY trying job being the President of PAS. It is a thankless one, trying to lead a party made up of personalities thought of being Ulamaks but wanting to be and acting like politicians, and politicians wanting to be Ulamaks and not behaving like one. And at the same time, trying to position the party to be in the centre of that ‘menage a trois’. Castrated at every move, within and without, it must be so frustrating.
It must be stated that PAS is and remains to be, in all its entirety devoid of all pretensions to otherwise, a political party and a political party seeks power. But when a political party projects itself as an Islamist party, it poses a never-ending dilemma for PAS and that is, do you openly embrace the fact that you are a political animal and therefore must actively seek power or do you sidestep the issue and hope that you are bestowed power without being seen as actively seeking power? A very powerful conundrum, it must be admitted.
And what of the Muslimah or the Women’s Wing of the party? UMNO too has its women’s wing and they can be very vocal about any issue affecting their gender and the country. Sometimes too vocal. But they have proven to be good and strong leaders, and the nation has benefited from it. Remember the WTO talks in Singapore when it turned out to be a 2-women affair, slugging it out at the Singapore corral, to the dismay of the Singaporean hosts (who wanted a very cordial PR event and claim another international PR victory, thank you very much). Can the Muslimah wing assert any influence on the current state of affairs? With all due respect, most unlikely. Will they ever? Again, with all due respect, most unlikely. Again.
So while we sympathise with the president of PAS with all his problems, from within and without, and being so often misquoted and misunderstood, we have to acknowledge that the farce has gone on for far too long. In fact, to borrow a line from that Second World War movie A Bridge Too Far, this has been one farce too many.