Why is Azmin Ali still engaging with PAS?

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COMMENT | Why is Selangor Menteri Besar and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali still engaging with PAS? What can PKR possibly have in common with PAS under its president Abdul Hadi Awang?

PAS has firmly established itself since the demise of former president Nik Aziz Nik Mat as a fundamentalist, radicalised, reactionary and exclusionary Islamic party that has now fully adopted the Umno political ideology of Ketuanan Melayu and wrapped it in Islamic credentials, simply in order to be seen as a viable partner to Umno while hoping to retain its dwindling support among its core rural Malay-Muslim voter base.

PAS’ only political role at present is to ensure that Umno remains in power, if necessary, with a PAS crutch in order to ensure Malay-Muslim dominance of the political system and to strengthen Islam in the country in the Wahhabi mould that inspired most of the PAS leadership. Umno, of course, wants to oblige PAS as a matter of political survival.

That is why the debate about enhancing syariah laws, the gradual implementation of hudud, the empowerment of the syariah courts and eventually creating a dual-legal system in the country for Muslims and non-Muslims is being encouraged by Umno and the Islamic religious authorities in the country.

In this discourse, Umno is not bothered about the erosion of our semi-secular Federal Constitution, the negation of fundamental freedoms and human rights and the overarching imposition of Islamic values, beliefs and practices on our way of life that not only impedes Muslims but interferes with non-Muslims as well and is gradually destroying our national identity, and even Malay culture and customs.

PKR has always prided itself as a multiracial, multireligious centrist political party with liberal views on politics and the economy. Although the PKR leadership is dominated by Malays, a political necessity given our demographics, the party has successfully projected a platform that appeals to middle Malaysia by not over-emphasising race and religion while espousing the causes of other races and religions in a spirit of unity, acceptance and moderation.

The bane of PKR since inception

The bane of PKR since its inception in 1999 has been the inability of the senior leadership, including de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, to completely disavow and distance the party from the Umno mindset and the desire to obtain and retain power at all costs.

Sometimes, in the eagerness to seek power, various factions within the party are willing to sacrifice integrity and principle for the sake of political expediency.

PKR, like most political parties in Malaysia, is riddled with factionalism.

But unlike other parties that are successful in keeping a lid on factionalism through strong leadership, PKR suffers from weak and indecisive leadership.

This is because of Anwar’s prolonged incarceration and the inability of PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her daughter, party vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, to steer the party away from fratricide caused by various competing interests within the party centred around Azmin and PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli, and their surrogates and proxies...

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