#Opinion* The PAS polls, in the eyes of the Chinese

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Last Updated: 10:47am, Nov 22, 2013

THE Chinese do not give two hoots for the PAS elections? What more the Muktamar or the party’s general assembly?

Yes, say some Chinese political observers. A few years ago but not anymore, they went on to say. Meaning the Chinese community is casting an eye on the big PAS election. Although we are not talking numbers here.

So to those watching the polls what do they hope to see?

“Liberal and open minded people winning”, said an observer on Chinese affairs. That is given. “True”, said another observer. The Chinese now, he said, “trust” PAS more than Umno.

“The barriers between the community and PAS have been broken since 2008. PAS do not put down the Chinese like Umno do. PAS handle religious issues better than Umno. Using hudud to frighten the Chinese is not working anymore. PAS is more liberal than Umno,” said the observer.

But surely the Chinese must be aware of the presence of leaders seen as “hardliners” in PAS?  “That’s why we hope leaders who are liberal and open minded win”, was his reply.

A political pundit who used to be an aide of a well-known former federal minister from the MCA have this to say:

“It appears that the Chinese are pragmatic, in that they are willing to forget PAS’ objective of establishing an Islamic state for the time being in their immediate goal to push Umno/BN out of power.

They certainly prefer liberals to continue working with allies in Pakatan Rakyat to capture Putrajaya. The Chinese do not want relations between PAS-PKR-DAP disrupted.

They understand PAS needs to strike a balance between ulamas and professionals. But the Chinese do not think PAS will change its current policies including its active participation in Pakatan Rakyat as they believe PAS is realistic enough to stay together in Pakatan to capture Putrajaya. It cannot achieve that goal alone or by cooperating with Umno.

Obviously, the Chinese know all too well for any political force to rule the country there must be a dominant Malay/Muslim party in it - due to the realties and political landscape of Malaysia.

Hence BN have Umno playing the role of anchoring the coalition of multiracial components.

“PAS can do that and must replace Umno as the party of the Malays thus be prominent in Pakatan,” said Hu Pang Chau. Obviously Hu fully “trust” and have “confidence” in PAS. He is after all chairman of PAS Supporters Congress. So, it’s another given he have “kind words” for the party.

To detractors Hu is “merely a PAS apologist”. That is the “nicest compliment” thrown at him. But it is said Hu do not get paid to do what he do. Neither is he given government positions in Kelantan.

And he had his share of “rub-ins” with the Kelantan authorities over issues he sees as “imposing on non-Muslims”. And he’s still standing.

“In past Muktamar, I’ve hit out at weaknesses of the party. If you love somebody you must not only say nice things. You must criticise things that’s not right so that things get better.

“This Muktamar I am going to criticise again. The focus is GE14. We must act now. In GE13 we performed below par. The next general election we must win at least 50% of the seats we contest.

“We must implement whatever that’s decided at the Muktamar. We must delete NFA or no further action from the PAS dictionary. Many times in the past, after the Muktamar resolutions passed came to nothing. NFA,” said Hu.

New resolutions apart, there are issues at hand which PAS need to settle. Like the spat with DAP’s Karpal Singh over the “call for the dissolution of race-based parties,” the spat with the DAP-led Pakatan government of Penang, the voices of dissent within, against the leadership’s stand on the usage of the word “Allah”. There are others of course.

I must end with a “story” related by a close Chinese friend of mine a few days after the 2008 general election. His mother was the “wakil calon” for the MCA candidate contesting a federal seat against a candidate from PAS .Among her tasks was to monitor the vote counting process. According to my friend,  his mum told him that when ballot boxes from voting centres located at new villages were opened, the votes were all for the PAS’ candidate.

“My mum nearly fell off her chair. Imagine Chinese from new villages who were all the while scarred of anyone wearing the white kopiah are now voting for PAS,” said my friend. Needless to say the MCA man lost. My friend’s mum is still with MCA.

Morale of the story? Feel free to conclude.

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