Dennis Ignatius: What does PAS really stand for?

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Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah aptly described PAS as a political prostitute.

With elections around the corner, PAS president Hadi Awang is lashing out at all his opponents, slandering them, spreading disinformation and playing up issues of race and religion. It is a measure of his desperation.

His latest bit of slander is that the DAP is “pro-communist” and communists, he warned, “terrorise more than the Christian and Jewish colonisers”. It is complete nonsense but then Hadi has always played fast and loose with the truth.

Hadi is a chameleon, a political contortionist, willing to say or do anything to achieve his ambitions. He’ll align himself with anyone just to walk the corridors of power and then, just as quickly, discard them once they have served their purpose.

In the 1970s, for example, when PAS was struggling, Hadi had high praise for the DAP. He said, “Only the DAP defended us…we are grateful to them…we have a responsibility to help them back…even with our differences over alcohol, pork, hudud and halal matters, we have something in common, which is to stand up against corruption, injustice and to fight for fairness for all.”

In 2008, he went so far as to align himself with the DAP and even ride their coattails when he thought it would serve his purpose. Now, of course, he has very conveniently discovered that the DAP is evil, a threat to national security and a danger to Islam.

Similarly, he was happy to hold hands with Anwar Ibrahim as part of Pakatan Rakyat; now he’s warning Malaysians to stay away from Pakatan Harapan because there’s an “iblis” (leader of devils) within the coalition.

In February 2020, he rushed to offer his support to prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, claiming that certain parties were trying to oust him. He said Mahathir was still the best person to lead the nation and should be allowed to continue in office. A few months later, he was, by his own admission, conspiring to stab Mahathir in the back via the infamous Sheraton Move.

His relationship with UMNO has been similarly marred. In 1981, he called them “infidels” in his now infamous Amanat Hadi Awang. That didn’t stop him, however, from cosying up to UMNO when he needed their help. He has still not satisfactorily explained why he quietly made an out-of-court settlement in the UK with Sarawak Report after suing them for reporting that PAS took money from UMNO.

After he fared badly in the 2018 elections, he signed a political pact (Muafakat Nasional) with UMNO. Later, when he saw an opportunity to grab power under the Muhyiddin Yassin administration, he was quick to side with UMNO’s opponents.  Now he has taken to calling UMNO a “murky” party.

As well, Hadi expressed no great outrage about the 1MDB affair in which billions were lost. Indeed, he even appeared to excuse corruption by opining that it was “a voluntary act between giver and taker”. Now that relations with UMNO are strained, he says he cannot work with UMNO because PAS “rejects those who give and take bribes”.

Those who have worked with Hadi have nothing good to say about him. Mat Sabu (who was once a senior PAS leader) described Hadi as fickle, changing his mind every week.

Mahathir says, “PAS is opportunistic. When they see an opportunity, they put aside their principles.” Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah aptly described PAS as a political prostitute.

Now he’s even trying to take credit for engineering the Sheraton Move and bringing down the PH government. Leaving aside whether he’s smart enough to pull off something like that, what kind of a so-called holy man would boast about stealing the mandate of the people, tampering with the democratic process and acting so deceitfully?

And, of course, his bigotry is legendary. He has pushed for non-Muslims to be excluded from senior government positions, accused non-Muslims of being responsible for most of the corruption in the country and disparaged other faith communities. How do you trust such a man?

I hope voters will take the full measure of the man – his ambition, his perfidy, his frequent resort to slander and misinformation and his abuse of religion for political purposes. To vote for him or the party he leads or any coalition he is part of, is to vote for a darker, more divided nation where principles, integrity and respect for diversity have no place.

Your vote matters; make it count! – Dennis Ignatius