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Selangor: All eyes on Pas but party caught in real dilemma

Pas leaders in happier times - Photo credit: Pas Pusat via Facebook

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Many are hoping that the Pas central committee will meet immediately and have the courage to do the right thing – to decide in favour of New Politics and the reform agenda, writes Anil Netto.

Pas leaders - Photo credit: Pas Pusat via Facebook
Pas leaders – Photo credit: Pas Pusat via Facebook

Pas seems to be divided over whether to back Selangor MB Khalid Ibrahim or to side with its Pakatan partners in calling for his removal.

On the one hand, the party is believed to be unhappy with PKR’s Kajang move. There is a sense that Pas was not pleased by what some within the party saw as a unilateral PKR move to replace the MB and take Pas and DAP for granted. And because of this, Khalid naturally found a safe haven in the protective embrace of Pas with whom he appears to have grown closer.

On the other hand, the hasty move by Pas’ Syura Council and party president Hadi Awang to back Khalid may not have gone down well with others in the Pas leadership, including the party’s central committee.

Was the Syura Council properly briefed on why its Pakatan partners wanted Khalid removed before deciding to back the Selangor Menteri Besar at its meeting on 6 August? Perhaps not. Now we see that Pas MP Khalid Samad may face disciplinary action for questioning the Syura Council’s decision to support Khalid apparently without reading the 50-page PKR dossier outlining why Khalid has to be removed. Why did the Syura Council make such an important decision without a full explanation?

And was Hadi Awang merely stating his personal opinion? Did he properly consult his central committee before making such an important decision? Deputy president Mat Sabu has clarified that Hadi’s backing for Khalid is not Pas’ stand. This, he said, would be decided at the party’s central committee meeting, originally scheduled for 10 August and then postponed to 13 August and now 17 August.

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But a week is a long time in politics, especially when the situation is so fluid. There are now calls for the meeting to be brought forward.

There is also a sense that Pas does not want to dance to PKR’s tune and wants to make its coalition partner sweat a little. Certainly, the party does not seem overly enthusiastic about PKR’s choice of new MB because it remains unhappy over Anwar’s moves, especially the Kajang Move, which is also the source of dissatisfaction among segments of the Selangor public. Pas appears to be playing hardball now.

But behind the perception that Pas does not want to be taken for granted, the public statements by Khalid Samad and Sabu show that there are real internal differences within Pas about whether to back Khalid Ibrahim and whether the party should cooperate with Umno. The postponements of the central committee meeting may reflect this uncertainty.

To be sure, the Pas central committee faces a real dilemma as the ball has been tossed into its court. The central committee now has to deal with the decisions by Hadi and the Syura Council to back Khalid Ibrahim.

Some within the party leadership do not seem happy with the Syura Council for what they may see as the overstepping of the Council’s jurisdiction. The Syura Council may be the highest decision-making body in Pas but it is supposed to deliberate on policy issues such as whether Pas should remain in Pakatan.

The central committee, on the other hand, is supposed to determine political tactics and strategy. The decision whether to back Khalid – which is a strategic or tactical move – should fall within the ambit of the central committee, not the Syura Council.

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So there is a sense that the Syura Council and Hadi may have pre-empted the central committee in this case, and the committee may now want to reassert its authority.

But if the Pas central committee withdraws the party’s backing for Khalid, it may be seen as a show of disrespect for – even defiance of – the Syura Council and Hadi. And that could cause a split in its ranks.

Which is why the central committee is in a dilemma – how to express support for its Pakatan partners without causing a split within Pas and without showing disrespect for Hadi and the Syura Council? That may be another reason why its meeting has been repeatedly postponed. But the party’s dithering has put Pas Selangor State Assembly members, especially those in the state ExCo in a quandary. Where do they stand in the meantime?

As things stand, the Pas central committee is hemmed in by the Syura Council’s decision and Hadi’s view on the one hand, and the dawning realisation that the party will be blamed and suffer irreversible political damage if Selangor falls back to BN, whether Pas cooperates with Umno or not.

The Pas central committee should remember that there is another party in this saga that is far more important than the Syura Council and the Pas president – and that is the people of Selangor who voted for Pakatan parties, including Pas representatives, to form the Selangor state government.

Pas must honour the mandate the voters have bestowed on Pakatan parties – for a change in the state government at GE12 and a more  emphatic mandate in support of the reform agenda at GE13. Not honouring that mandate would amount to a betrayal of the rakyat’s trust, and once lost, it would be hard for the party to regain that trust.

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Many are hoping that the Pas central committee will meet immediately and have the courage to do the right thing – to decide in favour of New Politics and the reform agenda – and to live up to the trust of the voters of Selangor and indeed all those across the nation who had hoped for real change.

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