Monday, July 28, 2008

Hell Can Wait

We now know that the decades old animosity and enmity between PAS and UMNO did not prevent them from holding - what were shortly after the March elections - secretive talks on potential power sharing. The strong war of words between them would lead one to believe that according to PAS, UMNO has always been a party of pseudo-Muslims and even kafirs. According to UMNO’s long-standing propaganda, the extremism and idiosyncratic facets and ideology of PAS render it archaic and un-Islamic.

Hence, according to each of them, the other is not truly Islamic. Now I’m no religious expert but the back-and-forth name calling was enough for one to conclude that each essentially accused the other of being condemned to hell.

So while UMNO and PAS ‘dialogue’ about power-sharing or ‘Malay unity’ or whatever else it is they were commiserating about, two particular points deserve further consideration. Whatever the spin each may put on these developments as they became public, each party has no doubt ended up with some egg on its face. Sure, there is the hypocrisy of it all. Here were practically two sworn enemies who never seemed to be able to see eye-to-eye on anything, let alone avoid calling each other insulting names, now seemed to have been in some form of a courtship.

But what are the rest of the BN and PR constituent parties to make of this new-found thawing between the two? Whatever the pretext – whether UMNO’s desperation, its underhandedness, PAS’s attempt to elevate itself – the BN and PR coalition parties should hold UMNO and PAS to fully explain their actions. Gerakan, MCA, and MIC cannot continue to allow such clandestine talks to happen and be left out in the dark before the matter became public. And in light of these revelations, while DAP’s Karpal Singh has questioned PAS’s commitment to the PR coalition, little by way of public clarification on the matter has come from PR. In this instance, the lack of criticism and adequate clarification from either camp of coalition partners is disturbing, to say the least.

In this instance, the hypocrisy on all fronts is truly shameful and despicable. I for one give Karpal Singh much credit for calling PAS to task on this issue. Perhaps others in the BN and PR coalition can show a bit more credibility and openly challenge their respective coalition party to explain itself.

As for the two protagonists in this saga, personally, I’m not the least bit surprised by UMNO’s underhandedness, and disappointed by PAS. Despite public declarations by its Youth Chief that PAS is a principled party and would not compromise its principles, it nonetheless leaves much to be desired considering the top leadership in PAS has not emphatically distanced itself from the rendezvous with UMNO.

I don’t know about who is going to hell in the afterlife, but the message to PAS from PR coalition members should be clear: decide which bed you want to sleep in while in this life.

G. Krishnan