A week before the Johor state elections, PAS president Hadi Awang urged voters not to support Umno, a party he associated with misconduct, malpractice and corruption.
Isn’t this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? PAS politicians broke many rules during the lockdowns, with one menteri besar engaging with members of another community in a northern state, and threatening to divert a river flowing into another state.
Moreover, didn’t PAS have to pay the investigative reporter, Clare Rewcastle Brown, a substantial amount of damages in an out-of-court settlement aftar Hadi sued her over an article alleging that PAS had received RM90 million to guarantee its support for Umno and Barisan Nasional?
PAS is also seen as a party which does not tolerate criticism. One of its MPs, Khairuddin Aman Razali, was critical of PAS and got into the bad books of the party hierarchy.
Hadi had said that Umno and BN suffered from numerous failings and weaknesses. “The parties are old and weak and with that comes many failings, corruption, misconduct and malpractice,” he was reported to have said.
“We hope the people of Johor will vote for Perikatan Nasional instead, and elect representatives who do not simply make promises but do the work.”
Both Hadi and the convicted felon, Najib Abdul Razak, were instrumental in causing the break-up of Pakatan Rakyat soon after GE13 and midway through Najib’s tenure as prime minister from 2013 to 2018.
At the time, Najib openly supported Hadi’s call for hudud in Kelantan. Soon after the 61st PAS muktamar in 2015, the progressives in the party were wiped out, when 22 of the 23 seats in the central committee were won by the ulama.
Mat Sabu and Husam Musa formed Amanah, but the “bromance” between Najib and Hadi appears to be over.
Remember when veteran Umno politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah described PAS as untrustworthy, and was like “a prostitute, going back and forth between DAP and Semangat 46”?
Hadi should have realised that just like in real-life romances, any political union which does not have a solid foundation of trust, mutual understanding, respect and common interests formed over a lengthy period, can only spell disaster for that union.
A few months ago, in November 2021, when a victorious Umno triumphed in the Melaka state elections, the rift between PAS and Umno grew wider. PAS was treated like a jilted lover.
Both Najib and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are anxious men. The charges they face hang like millstones around their necks.
They would naturally prefer GE15 to be held as soon as possible, so that they can capitalise on the opposition supporters’ election fatigue and the fact that the opposition coalition is weak and in disarray.
If both Najib and Zahid can pull off another election victory – this time in GE15 – who knows what the future might hold?
Nevertheless, Hadi is desperate to remain in power. He has tasted what it feels like to be in Putrajaya, and he is also aware that he, and his party, may not be able to secure many Malay votes in the future. This is ironic considering that both PAS and Umno have warned Malays in the past that only these two parties can protect Islam and defend the Malays.
In 2022, the Malays are more divided than ever, no thanks to both PAS and Umno. The politicians in PAS have been a total disappointment. Some are good at stoking racist and religious fires up north in Kedah. In Putrajaya, their ministers have shown dismal performances. Environment and water minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, for instance, has been ridiculed for his lack of knowledge about environmental issues, and deputy minister for women, family and community development Siti Zailah Mohd Yusof for advocating forms of gentle beating by husbands to control their wives.
Hadi is aware that he has a limited shelf life. His loyalty towards Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri Yaakob meant that he was rewarded with a post as special envoy to the Middle East, but he is aware that he is on borrowed time.
He has done little to improve Middle Eastern relations. He only teamed up with Najib because it was politically expedient, but Hadi is also a political opportunist. After the Sheraton Move, he promptly dropped Najib in favour of Muhyiddin. Najib faced incarceration, and teaming up with Muhyiddin seemed a better bet.
Hadi is able to hang onto power because PAS supporters are often warned that they should listen to their leaders and not question them.
If PAS continues along the same path, the party’s future success in elections will be humiliating. Only a new leader, with better and more youthful ideas, can salvage the party and claw back some of its former reputation.