PAS needs to come clean on its relationship with UMNO

By Charles Santiago, Klang MP

charles-santiagoThis is not the first time it has happened. And it certainly won’t be the last. We have, over regular intervals in the past, seen PAS blatantly going against consensus reached by Pakatan Rakyat. Some of the thorny issues remain the formation of an Islamic state, the position of Islam and Malay supremacy.

It certainly will not be off the mark if I said that this has led us to lose the hearts and minds of Malaysians. They are quite simply fed up with PAS’ rhetoric, which goes against the spirit of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. I am equally disillusioned.

The leaked WhatsApp group chat between PAS central committee members including Mohd Zuhdi Marzuki, who is also the operations director of the PAS research centre, therefore does not really come as a complete shock.

The Conservative elements within PAS have already been openly discussing the contents of the group text messages, which suggests that electoral re-delineation later this year can be made to favor Malay and Muslim voters through a PAS-UMNO pact in Selangor, looks into the possibility of PAS and UMNO working together to keep Khalid Ibrahim as the Selangor Menteri Besar and swatting away “noises made by non-Muslims and the DAP.

These messages have serious implications. They raise crucial questions as to how big is the faction within PAS that has aligned itself with UMNO, how much of real discussions have happened between PAS and UMNO to prompt Zuhdi to spell out a clear scenario of PAS leaving the Opposition coalition to join UMNO and how much support is there within PAS to electoral gerrymandering based on race and religion, which would only serve to steal the election.

We need answers and we need PAS to come clean.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang also seems to have thrown his support behind UMNO, inadvertently, by resisting the removal of Khalid. And he made the announcement after his party agreed to replace the current Menteri Besar with PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at a special meeting attended by PKR, PAS and DAP leaders.

As such, we cannot keep pussyfooting around this issue by pretending that the racist and damning WhatsApp messages reflect the opinion of some PAS members.

Opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim’s description of this potentially explosive issue as a “misunderstanding” that included “comments from the lower rungs that are not appropriate” is merely apple-polishing the issue.

The three Opposition political parties, namely PKR, PAS and DAP have different ideologies. But we came together on a common platform, agreeing to work on a consensus.

Just before the last election, we fought so hard for a clean electoral process. We marched with fellow Malaysians and Bersih leaders calling for free and fair elections.

The 2008 general election saw Pakatan Rakyat’s overwhelming victory, denying the ruling party a two third majority in Parliament.

The people voted for us as we promised them a fair and just government. The rakyat backed us as we vowed to be accountable and transparent. PAS has gone back on these promises.

Therefore PAS has to clearly state its stand on disturbing issues such as forming a working pact with UMNO to grab Selangor and retaining Khalid, gerrymandering and action it will take on the central committee members including Zuhdi.

Its leaders must also spell out how they will handle the powerful Conservative faction within PAS, which is threatening to split its own party and Pakatan Rakyat as well.

Pakatan Rakyat, on its part, must also figure out how it aims to work together with PAS, which has renegaded on the coalition’s consensus and common policy one too many times.

Anything short of this would only mean that we have, on the whole, betrayed the trust of the people who voted for us.

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