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PAS moderates in danger of losing out

 | September 18, 2013

The moderates must emerge triumphant in the coming muktamar. Otherwise PKR and DAP will not have a comfortable working relationship with PAS.


The PAS Muktamar coming up in the third week of November promises to be a hard-fought one and this time around the moderates will be fighting tooth and nail with the fundamentalists to get into or maintain their places in the 35-member Central Working Committee (CWC).

Already the religious faction had a show of force in a forum in Kota Sarang Semut in Kedah on Sept 14 wherein they had called for a review of ties with PKR – this was reported in a local English daily dated Sept 16.

Without further ado, here’s the who’s who in the league of moderates and other game-players who will be participating in the power-tussle:

Moderates: Dzulkefly Ahmad, Hatta Ramli, Kamaruddin Jaffar, Salahuddin Ayub, Husam Musa, Khalid Samad, Nizar Jamaluddin, Mohamad Sabu, Hanipa Maidin and Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah.

Neutral: Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

Fundamentalists: Abdul Hadi Awang (PAS President, Marang MP and Rhu Rendang State Assemblyman), Haron Din (lost the contest for the Arau Parliamentary seat in Perlis in the 13th general election), Harun Taib (chief of the religious faction and Manir State Assemblyman in Terengganu), Nasruddin Hassan Tantawi (PAS Youth Chief and Temerloh MP), Nik Zawawi Salleh (Syura Council Secretary-General), and the whole Syura Council.

We shall start off with PAS intellectual Dzulkefly Ahmad who has a doctorate in toxicology. The former Kuala Selangor MP who lost his seat by slightly over 400 votes is now the director of PAS Research Centre.

He blogs regularly but many in his party say that most of his write-ups are irrelevant to the party’s Islamic struggle. Dzulkefly is considered as de-facto chief of the moderates and his views are popular with the non-Muslims.

Well-respected by friend and foe alike and well-regarded by many, his influence in PAS has been lessened somewhat due to his GE13 loss.

Currently Dzulkefly is a member of the CWC but he may get voted out in the coming muktamar. It is of utmost importance to be in the CWC as it is the committee that makes all the party decisions.

He is also one of the Dewan Harian members. This small committee consisting of seven people is also a very powerful group because it handles matters pertaining to strategy and current issues affecting PAS.

Next up on the list above is Hatta Ramli. A general practitioner by profession, he is the one who manages the election campaigns for PAS. This Kuala Krai MP’s position in the CWC is quite strong as he is the party treasurer and he manages the party funds well.

From Kuala Krai we go to Tumpat which is near the Thai border and Kamaruddin Jaffar is the MP here. This mild-mannered MP is in charge of speaking out for PAS regarding international issues.

From Kelantan we zoom south to Johor which is the home-state of Salahuddin Ayub, the former Kubang Krian MP. He is one of the three vice-presidents of the party (the other two being Husam Musa and Mahfuz Omar) but like Dzulkefly, his power is also depleted due to his loss in the state seat of Nusajaya and the Parliament seat of Pulai (both in Johor) in GE13. Due to this double-loss, he is quite obscure now.

Tok Guru too

Another person who is in the obscure league is none other than Husam Musa due to his loss in the parliamentary seat of Putrajaya in GE13 and due to being sidelined from the Kelantan state exco although he still managed to defend his state assembly seat of Salor.

No 6 in the list above is Khalid Samad, the Shah Alam MP. This time he too may not be able to obtain enough votes to stay in the CWC due to his moderate stand pertaining to the use of the ‘Allah’ terminology by the Catholic weekly paper ‘The Herald’.

However, Khalid is popular among non-Muslims.

No 7 is Nizar Jamaluddin the former Perak Menteri Besar who was ousted due to an undemocratic power-grab. This current state assemblyman for Changkat Jering is another PAS lawmaker who is popular with the non-Muslims. He may be voted out of the CWC as some people in PAS dislike his outspoken manner.

Next in the list is Mohamad Sabu the PAS deputy president who is also popularly known as Mat Sabu. He lost the contestation in the parliamentary seat in Pendang in Kedah. He was elected as deputy president in the June 2011 muktamar as many PAS delegates thought that GE13 would be held in November 2011 and therefore he was chosen due to his oratory skills for the GE13 campaign.

Now that the general election is over and he has also lost, his standing is diminished.

Numbers 9 and 10 are Hanipa Maidin and Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah respectively. Hanipa is the Sepang MP and PAS legal counsel while Raja Bahrin is the Kuala Terengganu MP who has a degree in architecture from the University of Melbourne. Both are quiet types. They are new MPs and new game-players in the PAS political scenario.

Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat is the next name in the above list. This former Kelantan Menteri Besar for the past 23 years is the current state assemblyman for Chempaka and the party’s spiritual advisor.

He is neutral, supporting neither the moderates nor the fundamentalists although he was very slightly on the side of the moderates in the previous muktamar.

Overall, the moderates are more well-known to the voters compared to the fundamentalists who are quiet and are more of a keeping to themselves. There is much lobbying behind the scenes and in PAS it is always a subtle cloak-and-dagger game.

The religious faction are all in the Syura Council which is equal in power to the Central Working Committee only that the said Council decides on religious matters and the religious stand of the party.

The moderates must emerge triumphant in the coming muktamar. Otherwise PKR and DAP will not have a comfortable working relationship with PAS. But it will be PKR who will be more affected as the religious faction have voiced out that they have no problem with DAP.

This was stated by the ulama chief Harun Taib in the report of the same English daily mentioned above. An interesting and exciting battle is in store.

Selena Tay is a DAP member and a FMT columnist.


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