At annual congress, PAS may not find what it is looking for

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

COMMENTARY, Sept 3 — Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi, in his speech at the 68th PAS annual congress today, spelled out which parties it would work with but not which direction the party is heading towards.

The second largest Malay-based party has worked with several parties but not had a long-term relationship -- in spirit or ideology -- with any.

It still wants to partner with Umno, a party it struck a deal -- Muafakat Nasional (MN) -- with in 2019 to rally Malay voters but it "changed" partners along the way when leaders of the party were given positions in the government.

PAS then abandoned Umno and went with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

It even abandoned its logo in the Melaka and Johor state elections which resulted in the party losing many of its members.

With the 15th general election (GE) fast approaching, party leaders are trying to convince its grassroot members and supporters that it is the same old party that has not changed in spirit.

But party leaders are now divided; one group wants the party to revive and focus on MN which they see as the more viable way to unite the Malays while the other group wants to "swim in two ponds" -- Bersatu and Umno -- which is seen as a safe way to ensure PAS stays relevant.

The annual congress is the place where party leaders want to redeem themselves after having made the wrong decision in abandoning Umno in the two recent state elections.

The party grassroots have seen Bersatu's "strength" on the ground and this has prompted them to go against their leaders' directives in the Melaka and Johor state elections.

They know Bersatu is clinging on to PAS as it has no grassroots and election machinery.

As for Umno, it has put aside MN as it is going solo with its Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition which it leads.

The big problem now is PAS leaders have to decide on the co-operation its state leaders have made with Umno-BN in Selangor and a few other states.

PAS leaders also know they cannot influence Umno to accept Bersatu, a party formed in 2016 to eliminate and replace Umno.

Looks like the annual congress may just be an academic exercise.