by Fathol Zaman Bukhari
Delegates at the Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party’s (PAS) 58th Muktamar (General Assembly) in Kota Baru on November 17 were amused when a member proposed party president Dato’ Seri Abdul Hadi Awang for the post of Prime Minister if the Opposition wins the 13th General Election.
Hairun Nizam, from the PAS Ulama wing, told the crowd of over 1000 delegates that PAS members should not lobby for other leaders to hold the post, claiming that Abdul Hadi was the “best person” to lead the nation.
Hairun’s suggestion and the resounding support from party delegates contradict the stand taken by the Pakatan Rakyat leadership, which has repeatedly endorsed its de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for the post of Prime Minister.
At the pact’s mammoth Himpunan Merdeka Rakyat rally in the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium, Kota Baru on November 16, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang reaffirmed this stand, declaring that PR parties DAP, PKR and PAS were united in selecting Anwar to replace Umno’s Datuk Seri Najib Razak should the pact wrest federal power in the next general election.
“Anwar will be the seventh prime minister, not the sixth,” he told the tens of thousands gathered in the stadium.
PR parties have to repeatedly reaffirm their endorsement of Anwar as prime minister-designate to deflect criticisms from their nemeses in Barisan Nasional (BN) that they were unable to achieve consensus on numerous issues, the post of PM being one.
MCA President Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said that the Opposition was unfit to rule the country due to the numerous conflicts among the pact’s three parties. He pointed out that while some leaders have touted Anwar as prime minister, some have also said that the opposition leader was not the only qualified candidate for the post.
Kota Belud Member of Parliament, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, said in his blog that Hadi Awang stood a fair chance of being appointed the Prime Minister. Rahman theorised,
According to Article 43(2a) of the Malaysian Constitution, the Yang DiPertuan Agong shall appoint Prime Minister a Member of the House of Representative who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House. I believe PAS knows BN just can’t stomach Anwar Ibrahim as the Prime Minister.
What does that mean then?
It means that, if PAS demands for vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat to show who gets the biggest support or confidence to be the Prime Minister, and if BN MPs, particularly Muslim MPs, vote in favour of PAS, then it is possible that the PAS candidate will be the next Prime Minister and not Anwar.
The statement by firebrand Hairun Nizam is to be expected, as he is from the fundamentalist wing of the party whose stance on religion is entrenched. All said and done, the fact that a lone delegate had uttered the unexpected, followed by a loud chorus of approval, did not mean that Hadi Awang would be the next Prime Minister.
PAS’s Muktamar is almost like UMNO’s General Assembly. The propensity of delegates to go over the top in their oratory discourses is to be expected, considering the pleasure such moments bestow on the speaker.
The mitigating factor is of course the eventual outcome of the general election. Whichever party or a coalition of parties wins will form the government. It does not matter if it were Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat. What matters is the welfare of the rakyat. The rakyat holds the trump card and they are the ones who will decide whether a change is necessary or not.
I feel, after 55 years of Independence, the rakyat can no longer be taken for granted. We should not be held to ransom forever. A two-party system may be the best option for us now considering the many misdeeds that have been committed by members of a coalition whose only interest is the perpetuation of its legacy and its grip on power.
And if I were to make a choice between the devil I know and the angel I don’t, I’d willingly choose the angel. And pray that the angel won’t eventually turn into yet another devil.
“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt