Proposal for DAP-PAS cooperation draws opposing reaction

Analysts Syaza Shukri and Azmil Tayeb do not see the possibility of the DAP and PAS working together again but Azmi Hassan says such a proposal should not be ruled out.

PETALING JAYA: A suggestion to have the DAP invite PAS into the unity government to help curb extremism in the country has drawn contrasting reactions.

Two analysts who spoke to FMT immediately poured cold water on the suggestion by former law minister Zaid Ibrahim, but a third believes there is merit in it.

Syaza Shukri.

Syaza Shukri of the International Islamic University Malaysia said PAS, now at its peak in terms of political support, would not agree to work with the DAP.

She said that while such a cooperation may help to curb extremism in the country, it will not give PAS any political advantage.

“If we look at history, they cooperated in Pakatan Rakyat. For now, I think PAS might be less agreeable (to working together with DAP),” Syaza told FMT.

The now defunct Pakatan Rakyat, a precursor to Pakatan Harapan, served as an opposition coalition from 2008 to 2015.

Apart from the DAP and PAS, PKR was also a member of the coalition. Sarawak Nasional Party (SNAP) later joined the coalition but only stayed for just over a year.

On Monday, Zaid said extremism in the country can be curtailed if all political parties unite and “ride the Putrajaya bandwagon” together.

His comments came on the heels of a recent increase in extremist activities, such as the attack on the Ulu Tiram police station and the death threat received by DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok.

Zaid said political parties should lead by example in efforts to reduce extreme behaviour.

He urged PAS and DAP to stop branding each other as “extreme” and told DAP to invite PAS into the unity government.

PAS and the DAP have often accused each other of extremism. PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang labelled the DAP as an “extremist” group when addressing a Perikatan Nasional ceramah for the Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election.

Azmil Tayeb.

Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia described Zaid’s suggestion as “unrealistic” given the conservative nature of PAS’s current leadership.

He said leaders like Hadi would not agree to any form of cooperation with the DAP.

In any case, Azmil said, cooperation between the two parties will not help to curb extremism as the jihadist groups do not subscribe to the country’s democratic system.

“They do not believe in the democratic system and see it as ‘taghut’ (idolatry) which should be eradicated,” Azmil said.

Azmi Hassan.

On the other hand, Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara sees merit in Zaid’s proposal, citing the cooperation between one-time nemeses DAP and Umno in the unity government.

Azmi, who is also a fellow at the Council of Professors, said the voices of extremism within both parties have been subdued since they started working together.

Nonetheless, he said, it is not necessary for PAS to join the unity government.

Instead it can just be “friendly” with the Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim-led government, he said.

“By being friendly with the government, they become part of the partnership. In this case, PAS’s extremist rhetoric can be curbed, just as it has been curbed within Umno and DAP,” Azmi added.

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