For whatever reason, it is better for PAS leaders to keep their feet on the ground. The party's political resurgence at the 2008 general election was not achieved solely through its own steam.
Precisely, it won by not taking the driver's seat. The party had rightly decided to focus on its Malay heartland. As a result, it was rewarded with leadership of two additional states - Perak and Kedah. This is a formula the party should stick with.
The party's ambition to promote its Islamic governance as the backbone of federal government has been quite consistent. In the recent general assembly, the leadership had offered a similar role to the PR coalition if it wins power in the 13th general election.
There is nothing wrong in the party's ambition if both the coalition and the multiracial society can accept PAS' leadership. However, sadly, the party did very little to explain how it can provide a leadership to this racially and religiously diverse nation if segments of the party continue to speak out harshly against its competitors e.g. Sisters-in-Islam.
According to Awang Hadi, Islam does not teach Muslims to shun others although they may have opposing views with the Islamic party. This statement must be consistently applied to all parties, political or otherwise.
Second, the party leadership had maintained its support for free and open economy. It would have been useful if the party had made this stand clearer. What is tolerable within its own definition of 'free and open'? In the past, its youth movement had protested against various concerts e.g. Rihanna, Pussycat Dolls and others which were seen as harmless and purely entertainment by Malaysian youths.
Would it be able to tolerate establishments such as the Berjaya Sports Toto & 4D, the Genting Highlands Casino and others?
PAS' intention to become a national party and to secure the national leadership cannot be simply measured by the mere 20 to 30 thousand non-Muslim supporters in its supporters' club. Its readiness has to be measured by its political ideology, mindset and stand on various issues and topics which may not be consistent with Islam.
A PAS which has been exposed to the possibility of winning federal power may want to sound as populist as it can be to fulfill its ambition but the bubble can be pricked by its own inconsistency and impatience.
PAS wants its Islamic values to be accepted by non-Muslims as universal values which are fair, just and equitable. The party can still strive to achieve this noble objective even without first capturing the federal government. If achievable, it will give both PAS and Islam a good name.
Again, the party needs to show some consistency here. Its party president wants to discuss the possibility of a unity government with UMNO. Apart from fulfilling the party's ambition to share national power, those who had voted for the PR coalition and PAS cannot find an acceptable reason for the party to pursue this unity talk.
Has UMNO changed? Has UMNO put all the vices e.g. money politics, power abuse etc. behind it? Has UMNO become less racist and more accommodative? Can this unity talk help to make the government less authoritarian by abolishing all draconian laws?
It is up to Hadi to convince his own members and Malaysian voters of his plan to pursue the unity talk.
I was asked by journalists if PAS can win national power by alienating the PR. I responded by saying that it would be impossible for any party which is race or religious based to win national power on its own.
Without the BN, it is nearly impossible for UMNO to become so dominant as it is now. It is given that UMNO or PAS cannot govern by itself without the support of multiracial Malaysians regardless of how insignificant some communities are in numbers. The support of minorities in the first-past-the-post electoral system is very important if voters of major communities are split.
PAS resurgence is a work in progress. It is best for the party to conduct some serious soul searching before taking a shot at national power. Beneath the beard and turban, can its political ideology, mindset and stand capture the imagination of globalizing Malaysia? Can the party appeal to the middle ground?
It is best for the party to keep check of its own ambition. The lure of power is very strong. The temptation had destroyed many parties and coalition. PAS should learn from its 1999 victory and 2004 setback.