With PPBM's rise, Amanah staring at irrelevance
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File picture shows Amanah president Mohamad Sabu (right) with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad attending Pakatan Harapanâs second convention in Shah Alam January 7, 2018. â Picture by Ahmad ZamzahuriPETALING JAYA, Jan 12 â" For Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), the war appears to be over even before it has even begun.
Initially touted as a party that will entice PAS supporters unhapp y with the Islamist partyâs growing conservatism, Amanah has found itself stuck between the old world and new.
Over two years since its formation, its ideology is still not immediately clear, vacillating between progressivism and conservatism from topic to topic. The strength of its membership is also not fully known.
Part of this may be the perception that it was formed simply to become PAS but without the uncooperative leaders such as Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, whose clashes with DAP led the latter to unilaterally announce the end of Pakatan Rakyat.
But with the need to appeal to the more secular supporters of Pakatan Harapan, the offshoot Islamist party has not been able to play the religious conservatism card that has done so well for PAS, leaving it unable to appeal to the urban electorate or entice those in rural areas.
With the entry and rise of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamadâs Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), things are starting to lo ok dire for Amanah.
Not only has the younger and smaller PPBM been given the most â" 52 â" peninsular federal seats to contest in the general election, Amanah was also allocated the least, 27.
Worse still is that PPBM now appears to have been given what was meant to be Amanahâs main job: to entice the Malay and Muslim vote in rural areas.
While Amanahâs senior leaders such as president Mohamad Sabu appear content to take a backseat, the snub was not lost to those lower down the partyâs ranks.
The Johor chapter of Amanah snubbed the Pakatan Harapan convention last weekend over the seat allocation, while a member of the Islamist party in Kuala Lumpur reportedly shed tears upon learning that it will get no seats to contest in the Federal Territory.
While Amanah has attempted to put on a brave front, its tribulations are clear to observers, as is its gradual decline into political oblivion.
Not helping its appeal is the conti nued claim that Amanah is subservient to DAP despite repeated denials from both.
The view has allowed PAS, in particular, to undermine Amanahâs appeal by painting it as a stooge to the DAP, which is already struggling with an image of being against the Malays and Islam.
This is apparent from Amanahâs dilemma of either openly supporting PASâs push for hudud, which is expected of it as an Islamist party, or to reject this, as is must appeal to the less conservative supporters of the Opposition pact.
Also hurting Amanahâs case is the lack of acknowledgement from its own allies, particularly in Selangor that is headed by PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.
DAP had pressed Azmin, who is Selangor mentri besar, to drop PAS assemblyman from his state executive council after the Islamist party cut ties with PKR.
But Azmin has stuck firmly with the PAS representatives to the detriment of Amanah.
Azminâs action suggests tha t PKR, which is still nominally headed by the imprisoned Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, does not share DAP and its secretary-general Lim Guan Engâs enthusiasm for Amanah.
Amanah leaders now appear resigned to playing second fiddle to Dr Mahathirâs PPBM and the reality that it cannot generate the same attention or gain the needed traction as the latter.
The Islamist partyâs leaders must also have to accept that even DAP may not consider it an effective ally in convincing the crucial Malay-Muslim to back Pakatan Harapan in its bid to win the general election, and could consider even the 27 seats it received in the peninsula generous.
It is clear that DAP is backing Dr Mahathir and his PPBM to help punch through the wall that Umno has built around the rural Malay heartland, which Amanah has so far failed to penetrate with lasting effect.
Such factors imply that Amanahâs place in Pakatan Harapan has been supplanted by PPBM, and that it should expec t to play only a supporting role in the pactâs endeavours going forward.
For Amanah, the consolation may be that it will escape blame if Pakatan Harapan fails to make ground in the 14th general election with PPBM leading the vanguard, but only if there are still members left to console in a party that still is not sure what its cause and struggles are.Source: Google News