Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Rise Of Ulama In PAS

KUALA LUMPUR: The upcoming 59th PAS Muktamar should be an interesting affair this time around what with the party's spiritual leader signalling the push to put more ulama (religious scholars) to contest senior positions posts.
The former Kelantan menteri besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat did not minced his word when he said he wants party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to be retained.
This came right after talks that Abdul Hadi would face potential challengers in the form of Padang Serai chairman Fauzi Tahir and deputy president Datuk Husam Musa. So far, only Fauzi had made it clear his intention.
However, out of respect for continuity and keeping the party intact, Nik Aziz may be right.
But when he announced that he prefers the No 2 post to be an ulama as well, this automatically gave bearing to speculations over the past few months that some force in the Islamist party had grown tired of moderates, who had in many occassions, were too sympathetic toward PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
This group wants a resurgence of  the ulama and ensure that the ulama have a stronger influence on the party's decision making.
Whether this later on will cause a strain in the relationship between PAS, PKR and DAP is another interesting development.
Looking back at the result of the last general election, many in PAS realised that the party's performance was disappointing as it lost 52 out of 73 contested Parliamentary seats. It managed to hold on to 21 parliamentary seats compared to 23 in 2008.
The party's image was also shattered after it lost a grip on Kedah, whereas it's partners fared better in terms of support in Selangor (PKR) and Penang (DAP).
One of the factors leading to this decline, as many in the party believed, was PAS' willingness to set aside the party's Islamic struggle over Pakatan Rakyat's interest, all in the name of capturing Putrajaya.
Many decisions that were made prior to the elections had made PAS apppeared weak and too compromising. Some of the party leaderships also appeared to be more supportive toward Anwar rather than giving their full and undivided support to Nik Aziz and Abdul Hadi.
These 'Anwarinas', or some would call it 'Erdogans', were strong in the party over the past few years but now, following the poor showing in the last GE, there is a wave trying to push this group away.
The message was clear when top leaders such as deputy president Mohamed Sabu in Kedah, vice president Salahuddin Ayub di Johor, vice president Datuk Husam Musa in Putrajaya and central working committee member Dr Dzulkefli Ahmad in Selangor lost the election.
These losses were said to have weaken the ‘Anwarinas’ faction and the wave is strong towards bringing back PAS to a more relevant positon within Pakatan, if it wants to stay on in the relationship.
Whatever the decision after the Muktamar, it will be interesting to see how PAS will fare after the clash between these to Titans in the party and whether the change is significant enough to change the political landscape of the country.
The party's 59th muktamar will be held on November 22 in Selangor.

- Malaysian Digest

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