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Of ulamas, singers and football stars

 | May 30, 2012

Come Friday, PAS will prove that it's more than a party just made up of religious scholars.

ALOR SETAR: PAS will use its mammoth “Hijau” gathering on Friday to illustrate that it is no longer just an ulama-based party in view that the 13th general election is on the brink.

The party shall take great pains to showcase its latest additions to its some one million membership roll and there would also be a major surprise in store for the audience in terms of who would be joining the Islamist party on that day.

The gathering would be of historic proportions to PAS, said its vice-president Mahfuz Omar.

PAS would demonstrate that it is now able to lure personalities from across a wide spectrum of society and that it is no longer just a party full of religious figures.

Among those who would address the crowd on Friday night at the Darul Aman Stadium would be former top police officer Fauzi Shaari, 1980s pop star Aishah, National Laureate A. Samad Said, a prominent Muslim Iban activist and several former football stars.

Such personalities show that PAS has made inroads into the powerful civil service, the world of entertainment, sports and lingustics as well as in the cultural and the socio-economic scene, Mahfuz claimed.

Fauzi would represent the police force, usually regarded as a lynchpin of the civil service since it represents discipline, law and order, Aishah would reach out to the artiste world, its new Iban leader to Sarawakians and footballers to the local athletes.

All would address the mammoth crowd, Mahfuz said, adding that the gathering would also be an eye-opener to Barisan Nasional that PAS has indeed arrived as a prominent political party.

“Our speakers would whip up a frenzy similar to the build up of the Euro 12 (European football championship) and the London Olympics,” he added.

In the past, PAS has grown from a rural-based party, dominated by clerics to one who, attracted professionals and academics.

“We want to show that now, we have the strength to lure personalities. One major surprise would be a retired public sector leader, who would declare that he is joining our struggle,” said Mahfuz.

Each of the 162 PAS areas (division) would ferry about 1,000 members to the gathering, which was held to replace the annual “muktamar,” postponed to a later date this year to accommodate the election.

“We expect close to 300,000 members, supporters and associates,” said the party vice-president.

Five giant digital screens would be installed outside the stadium, whose seating capacity is only 50,000 to 60,000.

Sidestep contentious issues

Mahfuz also urged the traders to set up stalls orderly and to take advantage of the influx of visitors, as it is expected to boost the macro-economy of the agarian-driven state.

Asked whether the gathering would consolidate Kedah PAS following reports that BN was confident of wresting back the state from them, he said that it had no links whatsoever to the state PAS issue.

This rally symbolises PAS’ national leadership’s clout and capacity.

It would show that PAS can lead the Pakatan Rakyat movement to capture Putrajaya and that it has the resources and personalities to help engineer it, Mahfuz said.

As for Kedah PAS, Mahfuz said the party was confident that its present performance in the state government would be enough to convince voters here to continue supporting it despite earlier reports of a rift in the Kedah PAS leadership.

PAS would be heading into Friday’s rally with its wings chipped though, due to the explusion of former Selangor PAS commissioner Hasan Ali, infighting in Kedah PAS, several religious issues seen an enroaching into the non-Muslims’ religious freedom and a renewed debate about its Islamic State and the hudud criminal law enactment.

There is also the health status of its two prominent leaders, president Abdul Hadi Awang and spiritual adviser Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

Mahfuz expected PAS to sidestep contentious issues and focus on its unity as one big political force, which is ready to take on BN.


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