Pakatan in a fix over choice of PM

The opposition may find itself in disarray if it continues to squabble over its candidate for prime minister.

Rashid Ahmad, FMT

Pakatan Rakyat is caught in a difficult situation when one of its partners – PAS – dropped a bombshell on the last day of its muktamar (national assembly) on Sunday.

Its Youth wing and Ulamak Council endorsed a proposal that party president Abdul Hadi Awang be made the prime minister if Pakatan were to win in the 13th general election.

This has created uneasiness in the opposition alliance despite PAS secretary-general Mustapa Ali saying it was just a suggestion and was not even adopted as a resolution in the assembly.

Mustapa’s assurance did nothing to allay the feelings of distrust among the partners as the position of prime minister has been decided, according to DAP and PKR leaders, in a consensus a long time ago.

It is unclear whether the consensus (naming Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim as the candidate) had been communicated to all the members of the three parties or was only known to the top leaders.

But the fact that PAS Youth and the Ulamak Council had mooted the proposal meant that the decision to pick a candidate for the prime minister’s job did not reach the grassroots.

Or perhaps the PAS grassroots members knew about it and waited for the assembly to voice their disagreement that Anwar should become the country’s top executive.

If this is so (that the grassroots want Hadi to be their man), it means that the party is still being controlled by veteran fundamentalists who do not trust Anwar whose image has been, rightly or wrongly, smeared with “unholy acts”.

Internal strife

In fact, PAS has been plagued with internal strife with the liberals seen pitted against the fundamentalists. The former, aligned to Anwar, has been trying to unseat the latter since the party election in 2009.

The liberals managed to get rid of deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa and elect their man Mohamad Sabu or Mat Sabu, but this alone is insufficient to gain control of the decision-making process in the party.

The liberals, although they have gained positions in the supreme council, could not steer the party according to Anwar’s wishes as policies have still got to go through the Ulamak Council for endorsement.

And Nasharuddin, despite being unseated as deputy president, still sits in the council, which comprises veteran fundamentalists who share similar views although most do not air them in the open.