Ahead of GE13 and the prospect of a Pakatan defeat, it seems PAS is getting its excuses in early.
The party's research chief Dzulkefly Ahmad has astonishingly admitted that his party is "finding the Malay vote a big challenge". Since Pakatan will rely on PAS to maintain and expand its gains in 2008 if it is to take Putrajaya, this is the worst possible news for the opposition coalition.Dzulkefly implausibly blames Umno scare tactics for the loss of support, accusing it of "alarmist tactics of using the threat of Christianisation against Islam". Perhaps he is referring to his own colleague Hasan "Solar-Power Bibles" Ali?
If what he really means is that Islamic voters are worried about the influence of DAP's Christian and secular forces within a Pakatan government, then he is almost certainly correct.
"Politics in Malaysia is in transition. PR will bring real Islamic governance but people don't understand it," he said.
Indeed, this Islamic governance will be a real surprise to Anwar Ibrahim, Karpal Singh and Lim Kit Siang who have repeatedly vowed to prevent PAS from imposing an Islamist agenda in a Pakatan government. The problem that Dzulkefly has unwittingly identified is that PAS's loss of influence in Pakatan is the real reason the party is losing support.
Hadi Awang is nowhere to be seen, and some have speculated that Anwar wants to weaken him and take over PAS.
The other reason of course, is that voters don't want to be governed by a party that can't govern itself. Since Hasan Ali's trouble making and expulsion we have witnessed the leadership crisis in Kedah (still unresolved under a fragile cease-fire) and the painfully visible erosion of party Hadi Awang's authority.
Not to mention Nik Aziz and his uncertainty over whether to contest a seat or not. "Shall I stay or shall I go?" could be the new Nik Aziz spiritual anthem.
Dzulkefly also blamed the decline of PAS's appeal on the government's "cash handouts to low-income households", conveniently forgetting that his party last year failed in an attempt rebrand itself as the "welfare state" party with nothing but hand-outs.
Vote-buying handouts were the centrepiece of the misguided Negara Berkebajikan strategy. Was Dzulkefly the architect of that failed PAS policy idea?
The dire premonition from a senior PAS manwas delivered at a forum entitled "Analysis of the Post GE-13 Political Direction" where Dzulkefly painted a picture of a Pakatan government with less than half its MPs Malay (as it stands exactly half of Pakatan's 76 seats are Malay). In that scenario PAS could be in power as part of a coalition but with less influence than it now has in opposition. Dzulkefly has seen the future, and it's unremittingly grim. He has no idea, really, of how grim it will be when voters consider and reflect upon the mess that is PAS today.
PAS is in critical condition and, as far as GE13 is concerned the condition could prove terminal – that's nothing new.
PAS could take a terrible beating at GE13. That seems a distinct possibility. What is new is that someone from within PAS is publicly admitting it with an election on the horizon.
What Dzulkefly seems to be doing by blaming Umno of scare tactics and admitting the weakness of PAS is getting his excuses in early so when Pakatan loses, he can at least say can say "I told you so."