Politics

In PAS’ Sala, blues now dine with greens

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Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

GURUN — September 19, 2019: Of the four mosques in the Sala sub-district of Sungai Limau near here, only one was painted blue while the rest were coloured green.

It was a tell-tale sign of the locals’ predominant political affiliation.

Those familiar with the politics of Kedah would understand that in political context, the colour green usually connotes an inclination towards the Islamist party PAS whereas blue signifies a slant towards Barisan Nasional (BN).

Just a few metres in front of the single blue mosque sits an eatery painted in green. The locals said it was a popular nondescript diner that PAS supporters, colloquially known as “puak hijau” would frequent.

These days however, the diner –that did not even have a signboard– has been seeing frequent patronage from among BN supporters, which some locals said spoke volumes of the recently formalised PAS-Umno cooperation.

“I’ve been to the lion’s den (Umno’s headquarters) when the accord was signed last week [on Sept 14]. The Umno people are really sincere this time, I kid you not,” said a Pas member at the diner.

His friends who was with him nodded in agreement as he pointed out that it was timely for the Malays to be politically united as they felt that Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has a “penchant for unnerving the Malays.”

“Times have changed. Dr Mahathir (Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) who has been running down PAS is no longer with Umno. I think we can now trust Umno,” reasoned the Pas member.

Kuala Sala Umno party worker Sharifudin Ahmad, who was at the diner said the sight of PAS members persuading their fellow party supporters to believe in the PAS-Umno political cooperation was historical.

“Everyone in Kedah knows that this is their (PAS’) stronghold. Of the 14 general elections that we had, PAS won Sungai Limau 10 times. The only time they didn’t win here was during the elections during Tunku’s era,” said Sharifudin, in reference to the post-Merdeka period of first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.

The idea of PAS-Umno cooperation gained traction following BN’s loss at last year’s May 9 national poll.

It was heavily criticised by the parties’ opponents including Dr Mahathir who deemed it hypocritical as the two parties were bitter rivals in the past.

Last week, the prime minister cynically asked PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to apologise for his previous remarks during the 1980s that allegedly labelled Umno members as infidels.

“Did we ever hear him (Dr Mahathir) apologising to Anwar (PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim)?,” quipped salted fish trader, Rokiah Mahmud when Dr Mahathir’s remark was mentioned to her at the diner.

Although PH looked invincible when it won last year’s general election, the euphoria seemed to have died out with many citing the ‘Buy Muslim First’ (BMF) consumer campaign as examples of the ruling coalition’s plumetting popularity.

“It (BMF) had really added oomph to our canvassing. The Malays have now realised the threat that DAP poses to their value system,” said Umno party worker, Zahir Md Hanif from nearby Jemerlang.

“But what will certainly put a nail to PH’s coffin in Kedah is if they try, or be seen as trying to do something that could harm our paddy farming industry. And I have it on good account, that they already did that,” he added.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.