The latest controversy from PAS paints the picture of a party beset with confusion.
Zaharudin Muhammad, an ordinary PAS member except for the fact that he is the son in law of PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang, recently listed out five names/pseudonyms/initials as being members of a “dedak cartel.”
Dedak is the Malay word for animal feed, and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad most recently popularised the term when describing the feudal nature of Umno politics, in the run up to GE14.
The implication was that these politicians were being fed like farm animals by their masters, and thus simply did their bidding, without care for principle or integrity.
The big revelation from earlier this year was that it was indeed the voice of PAS central committee member Nik Abduh Nik Aziz — son of the late Nik Aziz Nik Mat — on a recording which described how even the very top leaders of PAS had taken money from Umno.
Nik Abduh, who had earlier denied that it was him in the recording, eventually admitted it was him — saying that that Hadi and the PAS leadership had “insisted” that he lie about it.
This statement was met with great derision, with an endless list of politicians calling attention to how PAS was now apparently a party that condoned bald faced lies, and thus could not be trusted in the least.
This latest revelation by Zaharudin now complicates matters even more. There are some who speculate that the “KH” he names is none other than Hadi’s own son, Khalil Hadi.
If this were true, did Hadi authorise his son-in-law to out his son? This is some Game of Thrones level drama.
At the heart of all this controversy is the question of what relationship PAS really wants with Umno.
The party seems to have gone back and forth on this question many times, especially after GE14.
Under Hadi and before GE14, there seemed to be a clear inclination of some sort of friendly ties between the two.
Since GE14, there are times when they seemed to get extremely close and cosy — to the point of marriage analogies. At other times, Hadi seemed to be cosying up to Mahathir instead, and keeping some sort of distance from Umno.
What does this latest revelation mean? Is it OK to take money from Umno, or is it not? If PAS is working closely with Umno, then what is the problem with taking money from Umno?
Amidst confusion upon confusion, perhaps it is time for the rank and file of PAS to really ask themselves who they are as a party, and what their core values are.
While the principle of adherence to party leadership is impressively strong in PAS, surely there must be some sort of limit. The fact that some PAS leaders are now actively telling PAS members to basically follow their leaders blindly is perhaps the surest sign that they have lost the plot.
Hadi’s political flip flopping stretches back well over a decade, and he ultimately has little to show for it. Perhaps it is time for more decisive leaders.
NATHANIEL TAN is director of media and communications at EMIR Research, a think tank focused on data-driven policy research, centred on principles of Engagement, Moderation, Innovation and Rigour.