Friday, May 27, 2011
PAS or UMNO?
There has been a lot of talk recently whether the Pakatan Rakyat coalition can work together. After all, the history between PAS and the DAP has been nothing short of colourful. Can the people take us seriously when we are viewed as a bunch of strange bedfellows?
Obviously, the show of unity from the 2008 General Election was surprising to many, but many a PAS candidate faced a mounting challenge, which wasn't so much from UMNO but from public perception. Indeed, politics is perception. The perception of PAS is a party which wants to turn Malaysia into an islamic state and impose hudud and sharia law amongst all in the country. Whether true or not, the mere idea of voting for PAS, especially amongst the Chinese population in Malaysia is close to unbearable.
It is true that Chinese support for PAS has never been higher, which is why Shah Alam with a significant Chinese population, could be wrested away from the arms of UMNO. However, can it or would it happen again? I have people coming up to me and say that they strongly support the DAP, but because the person in their constituency is a PAS candidate, they see UMNO as the lesser of two evils. Of course, the rationale behind the reason to vote, is not so much rational but rather emotional. How can we know to trust these guys? They are going to segregate our cinemas, ban alcohol and eventually ban pork aren't they! This is the fear and it is palpable.
Despite reassurances that the DAP and PAS can and will work together, the people are sceptical of the alliance. Herein lies the dilemma. How long can this partnership last? Is it possible that Chinese support for PAS would wane and in light of the absence of a DAP or even PKR candidate, their vote would go back to UMNO? There is every possibility that this is the case.
One of my friends had come up to me to express his gross unhappiness with YB Khalid Abd Samad. "He is seen as a weak person. In Shah Alam, nothing seems to be improving and a lot of people are now more sympathetic towards Barisan." He also shot me a word of warning "I warn you now, if PAS were to contest in the next GE again, there is no hope of a PR victory. The only thing that you can do is if there is a DAP candidate. We have enough support to pull towards the DAP and the Malay vote would be split between the PAS and UMNO candidate."
This sounds like a rather ominous warning towards the changing mood of the public. Can the DAP negotiate with PAS to keep the seat under PR? Can these claims be substantiated? The DAP has done a fantastic job in Penang, which give the DAP an incredibly strong platform. PAS has a different style, and in urban areas, they do not desire to see their area turned into Kota Bahru or being forced to Islamified.
I know that there is no way that PAS could turn Malaysia into an Islamic state unless they could command a two-third majority in Parliament to change the constitution. However, public perception would always overrun all rational argument. Better the devil you know.