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200 PAS Members Abandon the Sinking Ship

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Far from the defection strategy hyped up by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim a few months ago, it is Pakatan Rakyat members who are now leaving the Opposition coalition in droves.

PAS is the latest to be hit, with approximately 200 hardcore supporters in Kampung Pauh Dua, Kubang Kerian, quitting the party on Friday. Their grouse? That the Islamist party has strayed from its original objectives.

This is an issue The Choice has raised earlier, when PAS was tying itself into knots trying to project a united face over the "Allah" controversy.

In one corner, there was PAS Dewan Ulama chief Datuk Harun Taib who demanded that the word "Allah" was exclusively for Muslims; while in the opposite corner stood party deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who reportedly said that non-Muslims can use the word "Allah" to refer to their God.

Their contradictory comments revealed a growing undercurrent of hostility between the ulama and non-ulama sections of the Islamist party.

This internal standoff was finally decided this week, with the party leadership executing a flip-flop under pressure by its coalition 'partners' DAP and PKR.

At a joint press conference, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang demanded that Christians and other non-Muslim communities should not abuse the word "Allah" to spread confusion among Muslims, but said that this did not mean they were not allowed to use the word.

PAS' tightrope act failed to convince everyone, as it had insisted earlier that the word "Allah" was for Muslims only.

The Islamist party is clearly facing a crisis, with several senior members reportedly upset that the party is not strongly addressing issues involving Islam.

PAS' rank and file claim that the party leadership is more interested in pacifying DAP and PKR rather than standing up for its core Islamic values.

No wonder then that the two hundred supporters in Kampung Pauh Dua have now decided to leave and join Barisan National's (BN) component party, the People's Progressive Party (PPP). They submitted their membership application forms to PPP vice-president Datuk Nik Sapeia Nik Yusoff on Friday.

The group's leader Shafiei Peli said PAS has been cheating its supporters with its Islamic slogans.

"All this while, we thought PAS were upholding Islam and helping the Malays. Now we know the party we supported was the one that cheated us. Only BN can help Islam and the Malays," he said.

Shafiei declared that they would help BN win in Kelantan in the upcoming election.

Nik Sapeia, who is also Kelantan PPP chairman, said the mass desertion by PAS supporters reflected the Islamist party's failure to uphold the status of Islam and of the Malays in Kelantan.

"PAS was spoiled because they chose to collaborate with Parti Keadilan Rakyat and DAP to the extent of becoming their Trojan horse and hence, betrayed the Malays and Islam," he pointed out.

The issue was brought into focus last year when former Selangor exco member Datuk Dr Hasan Ali was sacked by the party for claiming that PAS was moving away from its Islamic ideals to forge stronger ties with its coalition 'allies'.

To the outside observer, Pakatan Rakyat does indeed look like a marriage of convenience, but for committed PAS members it must be an ordeal to forsake their cherished Islamic ideals at the altar of electoral respectability.

As the latest desertions demonstrate, the Islamist voice within PAS remains a dormant volcano within Pakatan that could awaken one day to consume the coalition

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