PAS Youth needs to search its soul

It is the weakest of youth wings in Pakatan Rakyat

Free Malaysia Today

At the recent PAS muktamar in Kota Bahru, the youth wing was taken to task by its own members for its ineffectiveness as a political movement, especially in comparison with its counterparts in PKR and DAP.

However, much of the self criticism was drowned out by the shrillness of attacks against the party organ, Harakah. This is a pity because what PAS Youth needs most of all is a little soul searching.

For example, a delegate from Sarawak raised the valid issue of the wing’s failure to highlight problems faced by people in his state.

He acknowledged that youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi did mention Sabah and Sarawak in his opening speech, but only in a general way.

“There was no real focus on the issue of the Sarawak people’s victimisation by Barisan Nasional,” he said.

“The poverty rate in Sarawak is 5.3% and there is no water and electricity supply for the interior regions although the state’s natural resources contribute enormously to the coffers of the Federal government.”

Perak delegate Nazri Din challenged the wing’s central leadership to come up with a manifesto that suits the needs of youths.

Need for a vision

He said PAS Youth had offered no new ideas for formulating a youth vision that could be articulated in the campaign for the 13th general election.

“Today we have half million voters in the Felda schemes and 20% of them are youths. The wing must explain to this new Felda generation what it can offer them.”

Negeri Sembilan delegate Mohd Zulkarnain Mohd Zaki questioned why there had been no update on the activities of the Youth Leadership Academy.

“What is the current status of Akademi Kepimpinan Pemuda?” he asked. “We don’t know whether it is fully utilised or not.”

He urged the central leadership to emulate its counterparts in the PKR and DAP youth wings and come up with a “PAS Youth leadership policy”.

Kelantan delegate Ahmad Marzuk Shaary urged the wing to identify youth figures that would be as prominent as those found in PKR and DAP.

“We need to take this matter seriously so that PAS Youth can be a platform for youth leaders,” he said.

Charisma and creativity

Some pro-PAS bloggers agree that PAS Youth is the weakest of Pakatan Rakyat youth wings.

Indeed, the Islamic party’s youth leaders are noticeably lacking in charisma and political creativity. Nasrudin himself, as well as his deputy, Nik Abduh Abdul Aziz, may be competent as Islamic scholars, but neither of them is notable for ideas that suit Malaysia’s political culture.

Many observers believe that PAS Youth will not progress in local politics as long as its leadership is dominated by the ulama group.

In several states, the focus of activities is more religious than political. Thus we have PAS Youth leaders who seem to spend more time preaching and delivering lectures in the mosques than organising and carrying out political activities. This is a far cry from the days when the wing was led by such figures as Mohamad Sabu, Salahuddin Ayub and Mahfuz Omar.

Thus there is no need to explain why Nasrudin, Nik Abduh and other youth leaders from PAS do not get much coverage either in Harakah or any other news publication.

If PAS Youth wants more press coverage for its leaders, then it must encourage them to emulate, for instance, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli, and take more interest in exposing political scandals and abuses by the ruling regime.

An exception

Johor PAS Youth chief Suhaizan Kayat is a notable exception, with his criticism of irregularities in the work of the Election Commission.

A senior PAS leader who spoke to FMT on condition of anonymity said there were plenty of newsy issues in his state but the youth chief there, an ulama, had failed to capitalise on them for political mileage.

“I have to feed him with the information and push him to have press conferences to highlight the issues,” he said.

“I even have to ask my secretary to arrange for the press conferences. The coordination factor is so weak.”

Nevertheless, critics and even detractors would have to congratulate PAS Youth for its Unit Amal, the most well organised and the most effective security unit in Pakatan Rakyat.