Sparks to fly at PAS muktamar

(The Star) – Sparks are expected to fly at the 58th PAS muktamar from tomorrow if hardliners, unhappy with several developments within the party, go on a no-holds-barred spree to highlight the actual grouses on the ground.

Temperature is said to be getting more heated as PAS’ top leadership continues to ignore several contentious issues, including the recent controversial statement made by PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar on freedom of religion.

It remains to be seen if the hardliners succeed in making their voices heard against those who wish to keep the issue under wraps so as not to rock the Pakatan Rakyat boat.

Observers said the hardliners’ patience were being tested to the brim following failure of the party to take Nurul Izzah to task for allegedly implying that religious freedom should also be accorded to the Malays.

Sensing possible fireworks, PAS central committee member Khalid Samad called on the delegates not to create friction within the party and among friends in Pakatan.

“We must defend Nurul Izzah because her statement was misinterpreted,” he said.

Describing the next general election as crucial for Pakatan, Khalid said PAS should not over-react to some issues, allegedly fanned by the Barisan Nasional.

Another party leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said defending Nurul Izzah would be disastrous for PAS.

“Yes, grassroots are upset, but the top leaders appear to be living in a parallel universe where they think whatever they say will be accepted by members and supporters,” said the leader.

An observer noted the parallel of Nurul Izzah’s issue with that of her father Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s alleged sex video tape. PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had come out in defence of the Opposition Leader last year.

“Hadi used the muktamar as a platform to defend Anwar, who is a PKR leader, by saying that video evidence was not acceptable as videos are nothing but “iron with no eyes”.

“But he would be pushing it too far if this year he is to use the muktamar to defend Nurul Izzah,” he said.

This year’s muktamar with the theme “Welfare State Core of Unity” would be held at the Pusat Tarbiyah Islamiyah Kelantan at Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan, until Nov 18.

Muktamar deputy director Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said among the highlights would be the planned “resurgence of rakyat” gathering at Stadium Sultan Mohamad IV in Kota Baru on Friday.

He said 1,100 delegates from 186 PAS areas would attend the event.

PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu will open the 53rd Youth muktamar, while Hadi would open the 52nd meeting of the party’s Woman’s wing.

The Youth, Muslimat and Ulama wing will hold their respective assemblies in separate locations tomorrow.

Hadi would deliver his presidential speech during the muktamar proper on Friday.

Media and publicity committee chairman Aiman Athirah Al Jundi said the Muslimat might push for an emergency motion if they got the green light from the resolution filtering committee.