Fallen star has not lost his shine

Datuk Dr Hasan Ali’s sacking from PAS has sent shock waves through the party. His supporters say PAS is bowing to pressure from their Pakatan Rakyat partners.

The fallen star in PAS has come full circle in his politics. His journey through PAS politics also reflects the extent to which PAS has changed since the day it threw its support behind Anwar. The liberals in PAS extol the change as necessary for the survival of the coalition. But the conservatives are concerned that the party has kowtowed to the secular values of DAP and PKR.

Joceline Tan, The Star

FORMER PAS leader Datuk Dr Hasan Ali was one angry man as he faced his audience in the living room of his Taman Tun Dr Ismail house.

He had learnt just a few hours earlier that he had been sacked from PAS and he was stirred and shaken. His mobile phone had been ringing non-stop since the news broke with friends wanting to know what had happened and the press hounding him for a response. So he decided to call a press conference the same evening.

The orator in him was in full swing as he lashed out against his expulsion saying that, “I was sacked because of Anwar Ibrahim.”

Fall from grace: Dr Hasan joined PAS in 1998 because he was outraged over the sacking of Anwar but he is now being sacked because he is critical of Anwar’s role in Pakatan. Dr Hasan is seen here during a press conference at his house hours after news broke of his own sacking. — Bernama

“Politik kotorrr,” he said, rolling his r’s dramatically as he accused his foes of dirty politics.

It was quite an evening because Dr Hasan is a first-class orator; he had made his name as a motivational speaker. A small group of his supporters was present as well as former PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa and Chempaka assemblyman Iskandar Abdul Samad who were there to lend him moral support.

So was Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali. The man seems to be everywhere and he was more than willing, when asked, to say a few words at the event. The trouble with Ibrahim is that he is not a man of few words and things began to sound like a ceramah the moment he took the microphone.

Ibrahim is one of the most controversial men in the country but one thing he is not, and that is boring. His speech, delivered in his usual ear-splitting fashion, had everyone tickled.

Ibrahim: ‘The door to Perkasa is open to Dr Hasan’

“You can even be president of Perkasa. I will surrender the post to you,” he said as he jokingly invited Dr Hasan to join Perkasa.

Dr Hasan shook his head and said Ibrahim should be crowned “life president of Perkasa”.

The Perkasa leader also took a swipe at Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, saying that Dr Hasan’s sacking showed that PAS “favoured Anwar over the party’s own beliefs”.

“Why are people obsessed with Anwar Ibrahim becoming PM? He is morally finished. Anyone can be PM, even Ibrahim Ali can be PM,” he said.

Of course, all that was before the court verdict acquitting Anwar of the sodomy charge. The two men probably thought they were dealing with a man who was on the road to oblivion.

While Dr Hasan’s sacking was not unexpected, the manner of the dismissal was quite unusual. PAS’ central committee (CC) had applied a rarely used clause in the party constitution to bypass the need to go through a disciplinary hearing. The last big name to face such a drastic move was former president Tan Sri Mohd Asri Muda.

Dr Hasan will also be removed from his Selangor state exco post. Meru assemblyman and state PAS commissioner Dr Rani Osman has been identified as likely to take over.

Dr Rani: Poised to replace Dr Hasan as the state exco.

The irony, said Kelantan restaurateur Juhaidi Yean Abdullah, is that Dr Hasan had joined PAS back in 1998 because he was outraged over the sacking of Anwar from the Government. But he is now being sacked from PAS because of his opposition to Anwar.

He had been a big catch for PAS in 1998 because he was associated with the ruling coalition and was a Malay household name on account of his appearances on RTM’s Forum Perdana Hal Ehwal Islam.

“He was at the height of his popularity. He was the catalyst that led other professionals and academics into PAS,” said Juhaidi.

Dr Hasan rose rapidly in PAS. He won a parliamentary seat in Perak and a state seat in Selangor in the 1999 general election, only to lose both in 2004. But he was a rising star in PAS and in 2001, he was elected a party vice-president.

PAS sources said things began to go wrong after the 2008 general election when he did not get the mentri besar post. To compound matters, he had been among a secret group of PAS leaders invited by Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo to negotiate the possibility of PAS and Barisan Nasional setting up a unity government in Selangor. That incident has dogged him like a dark cloud.

“His ambition was the mentri besar’s office and he created issues to destablise the State Government right from the start,” said State Assembly Speaker Datuk Teng Chang Khim.

Push for Islamic policies

For instance, said Teng, Dr Hasan found fault with Selcat, the select committee for competency, accountability and transparency set up to inquire into public spending by the previous administration. Dr Hasan went on to make headlines in his push for Islamic policies in the Selangor Government.

He was a controversial political figure in Selangor, making news about everything from solar-powered Bibles and the sale of beer to the fact that an illegitimate baby is born every 18 minutes in the state. His Pakatan colleagues saw his actions as a concerted attempt to undermine and unseat Khalid so that he could take over.

Nasharudin: Will the former deputy president be the next to go?

But, said Tumpat MP Datuk Kamaruddin Jaffar, Dr Hasan went for broke after it was revealed that he was not listed as a candidate in the general election. PAS has a system whereby branch leaders can nominate up to three names as election candidates in their respective areas. Dr Hasan’s name was not among them and he was like a bull in a china shop after that.

He accused the party of deviating from its Islamic State mission for a Welfare State, slammed Anwar as unfit to be prime minister and asked PAS members to boycott the demonstrations at Anwar’s court verdict.

Dr Hasan was basically saying that PAS had failed to defend Islam, the Malays and the Rulers, and that it had bent too far over backwards for DAP and PKR. His supporters applauded him but his critics said he was beginning to sound like Umno.

The last straw, said Kamaruddin, was when he rubbished a statement by Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat. The elderly leader was reported by Harakahdaily as saying that Dr Hasan had apologised for criticising the party but Dr Hasan accused Harakahdaily of misreporting.

It kamikazed politics on his part and the long knives finally came out for him.

“He has been talking too much, attacking the party policy. The way he has been going on, it is as though he’s the only one fighting for Islam. And for him to attack Harakahdaily, that was too much,” said a top party official.

But Dr Hasan’s supporters have decried the way he was booted out. They accused the Erdogans in the party for the “beheading” and fingers have been pointed at a leading Erdogan intellectual in Selangor as the “man behind the curtain”.

Party sources said the majority of those who spoke, including a couple of ulama figures, at the CC meeting on Sunday morning were critical of Dr Hasan. There were mixed views during the discussion, with some calling to expel him while others favoured a suspension. But when the decision to sack was eventually proposed, no one objected.

“Everyone participated. It was not about a gang of Erdogans going for him,” said Kamaruddin.

But Dr Hasan has support among many conservative ulama who are equally unhappy with the compromises that the party has made. Many of them also do not think much of Anwar and the idea of him becoming prime minister leaves them cold.

The ulama do not believe in using the media but they are quite powerful behind the scenes. This group expressed their concern when the Syura Council met on Sunday evening.

The Syura Council, comprising mostly the ulama class, is the highest decision-making body in the party and several of the members demanded an explanation.

The leading ulama Datuk Dr Haron Din has asked Dr Hasan to appeal against the sacking. The head of the Dewan Ulama Datuk Harun Taib is also standing by Dr Hasan and had telephoned him to commiserate over the sacking.

The ulama class is basically concerned that if Dr Hasan who had spoken up for Islam and the Malays can be expelled because of pressure from PKR and DAP, what next?

Dr Hasan is not interested in Perkasa but will he join Umno? Perkasa’s Ibrahim does not think so but, as they say, never say never.

The fallen star in PAS has come full circle in his politics. His journey through PAS politics also reflects the extent to which PAS has changed since the day it threw its support behind Anwar. The liberals in PAS extol the change as necessary for the survival of the coalition. But the conservatives are concerned that the party has kowtowed to the secular values of DAP and PKR.

Dr Hasan was saying what many conservatives in the party felt but could not say out loud. Perhaps the most contentious point of all is that many of the conservatives agree with Dr Hasan that Pakatan’s prime minister candidate should be from PAS, not PKR.

The good thing about PAS is that its members will rally around the party even if they think that the action against Dr Hasan has been too extreme. The ambitious elements in the party are in a hurry to get to Putrajaya and they want to put Dr Hasan’s politics behind and move on. But, some warn, PAS may not have seen the last of Dr Hasan.

He feels betrayed and there is still a lot of fight in him. The show is not over yet.