Victory, naysaying and Umno’s game

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“Gentlemen, when the enemy is committed to a mistake we must not interrupt him too soon.”

- Horatio Nelson

Discerning Malaysiakini readers had a triple Chinese New Year treat. Two of Malaysiakini’s more insightful writers offered up two very different pieces and former MCA president Chua Soi Lek weighed in on the whole DAP/PAS marriage of convenience and dropped some hard truths about the current political terrain.

All three pieces were interesting (to me at least) because ultimately they all point to the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the opposition and the dangers of playing Umno’s game which I have been talking about for many years.

As one of those loud voices that are against any dealing with PAS, I have to admit that reading Nathaniel Tan’s piece, one thing become very clear. With the alliance between former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and oppositional factions in this country, a line was crossed which made any argument against dealing with a specific political party, meaningless.

In other words, because the opposition has decided to bury the hatchet with in PAS’s nomenclature - the “Mahafiraun” - the idea that anyone could make an argument about rejecting a certain political party or personality based on values and principles is absurd.

Therefore, Nathaniel is right (although considering his past political affiliations, he comes with a very specific set of biases) when it comes to building bridges with PAS because what the opposition has done is make it clear that there is nobody they would not work with, in order to get rid of Chairman Najib.

However, where Nat’s argument goes off the rails is when he attempts to make the case that the ideological dissonance between PAS and the DAP is the obstacle between the two working together. While the late Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat was pragmatic enough to sublimate principle and embrace political compromise, this is not the case with the current leadership of PAS.

The reality is that at this moment the power brokers within PAS have formed an alliance with the ruling hegemon and as I have argued before, all they have to do is hamper the opposition and remain relevant to Umno by maintaining at the very least a stronghold in Kelantan.

Hence, PAS’ value to Umno is their role in weakening the opposition and spreading around Islamic memes that ultimately destabilise the already weak secular foundations of the opposition. This late in the game, when the opposition has already let the enemy in the gates, it is pointless finding common ground, especially when the opposition is juggling so many disparate alliances.

Which brings me to what the former MCA president said about political opportunism. What can I say? If the political union between the DAP and PAS worked out, it would be considered a winning formula but when it breaks up, we can label it as opportunism.

The cracks in the alliance were already showing soon after their electoral victory. While Malaysians celebrated a new dawn in Malaysian politics, the firefighting going on behind the scenes and the reality that Tok Guru was holding onto the alliance with the force of his personality, should have been a wake-up call to all those politicians who claim to want change.

Instead what did they do, they carried on nurturing the Islamic apparatus in an attempt to gain Malay votes at the expense of reshaping the discourse now that they had political power.

Last year I reminded those who are interested that the opposition butchered the ideas of a secular state in a piece arguing that the way forward is not the way back:

“The inclusion of PAS into mainstream politics and the ‘PAS for all’ propaganda ensured that this Islamic sect gained credibility, but more importantly further entrenched ideas that were anathema to a secular state.

“The opposition’s propaganda is that Malaysia is a secular state or that the opposition professes secular ideas, but the reality is that the opposition has done nothing beyond aping similar BN tactics in its political war with Umno.”

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