SHAH ALAM: Amanah president Mohamad Sabu has admitted that his party could go the direction of PAS, saying it was not something far-fetched as the party was made up of former members of PAS.
In a frank interview with FMT who met him during his campaign trail here, the veteran politician popularly known as Mat Sabu said there was always the worry that the three-year old party could be “hijacked” by those who still subscribe to PAS’ ideals.
“We cannot deny that there is PAS DNA in Amanah,” said Mat Sabu, who formed Amanah in 2015 following divisive PAS elections which saw conservative leaders taking over the party.
He said Amanah subscribed to the political ideals of the late PAS president Fadzil Noor, under whose leadership PAS forged political alliances with secular parties including the DAP.
He said under the late leader, PAS was focused on winning elections on a progressive Islamic platform.
In contrast, Mat Sabu said the present PAS leaders were more interested in their members’ personal morality.
“Fadzil knew that in order to win you needed the votes of the non-Muslims. With this same mindset he managed to become part of the Barisan Alternatif and proved himself right when PAS won big in Kedah in the 1999 elections.”
Barisan Alternatif was a loose electoral alliance which brought together PAS, DAP, Parti Rakyat Malaysia and Parti Keadilan Nasional, the precursor to PKR.
In 1999, PAS won 27 parliamentary seats, the biggest share among opposition parties.
Mat Sabu said PAS “returned to its old ways” following Fadzil’s death in 2002, focusing on religious purity.
He added that the party was also influenced by the emergence of a crop of young leaders who graduated in religion from Middle East universities.
“Coming from places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, they were not well-versed or exposed to good governance or the ways of democracy as practised in Europe.”
He said for these young “ustads”, winning the elections was not as important as dictating a person’s moral character.
“If we’re not careful, what happened to PAS could also happen to Amanah.”
Mat Sabu said between 80,000 to 100,000 Amanah members were once with PAS.
But he said while the PAS power base originated from the rural heartlands, it’s the other way around for Amanah.
“It will be up to Amanah’s leaders and the core members of the party to ensure that Amanah does not become PAS.”