I thought that it being election day in the US and with the PM being overseas, that there would hardly be any local political news left to capture my imagination. Then I saw the news in the NST reporting an earlier tabloid report of Hj Hadi Awang, the PAS President, considering contesting against DS Najib for his parliamentary seat in Pekan!
Those in the know know that this is not really a silly notion. DS Najib's seat, despite being held by his family, with his father before him, since independence, excepting the period when he was Menteri Besar of Pahang, is not actually safe! DS Najib almost lost the seat in the 1999 General Election and it has ever been the target of the opposition since.
However, since 1999, DS Najib and his organisation has taken some significant steps to make the seat more secure. Certainly since 2004's PRU11 landslide, when the seat was held by a Deputy Prime Minister for the first time in some 3.5 decades, the likelihood of DS Najib being beaten off the seat has dimished significantly. So, any opposition leader challenging DS Najib in Pekan, even DS Anwar Ibrahim, would be committing harakiri!
So, is that really what Hj Hadi Awang is after? A noble political death at the hands of DS Najib at the pollbooths of Pekan? It should be noted though that there may be more reasons that one for Hj Hadi to wish for an end to his political life. Among them?:
- Hj Hadi's leadership of his party has been increasingly undermined over the period of his tenure. In the first place, Tok Guru Nik Aziz's role as an unelected spiritual chief seems ever at odds with him on some quite temporal matters. I would not see him as being too comfortable staying in the role if he keeps being treated like so.
- The loss of YB Nasharuddin Mat Isa to YB Mat Sabu must still rankle. Whilst Hj Hadi is ever pragmatic as a politician that has survived the ups and downs of politics for so long, I am sure he would prefer YB Nasha as his presumed successor to be groomed - the younger, more educated and urbane man being more suited to attract the more educated younger generation to the party.
- Hj Hadi is also likely feeling the physical limits of his age now. Word on the ground in Marang over the last Hari Raya Haji was that he could not do the full circuit of mosques in his constituency to participate in the physical slaughtering of the animals for 'Qurban'. He had to delegate half as he was not fit enough. This may also be the reason why he does not 'turun padang' as actively as before.
- Hj Hadi may end up losing in Marang this time around as UMNO and BN in the area has revived, with Dato' Rahman Bakar, the 'giant-killer' who had beaten Hj Hadi before likely to be involved in PRU13, either as a candidate or at least as a key contributor to any BN campaign.
So, a political HARAKIRI! may be just the tonic Hj Hadi needs to ease him towards a final retirement from politics. In fact, he may well have seen the light from observing how much YB Nasha and even YB Hasan Ali has been able to continue to contribute despite being expelled from the mainstream of PAS party politics. Perhaps he feels it is time for him to invest the last years of his life in something more constructive than being PAS President?