Rift between ulamas and liberals in PAS

PAS leader Hadi Awang’s announcement that non-ulamas can be party chiefs appears to have turned the tide in favour of liberals.

K Pragalath, FMT

PAS information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man’s announcement to run for a vice president position has thrown a spanner in the cleric faction’s campaign within the party.

What has happened among the clerics otherwise, also known as the ulamas?

It is definitely a surprising tactical move by Tuan Ibrahim to raise the heat in the race for the three vice president positions instead of the deputy president post.

Incumbent Mohamad Sabu has confirmed that he will be defending his post. With Tuan Ibrahim no longer in the deputy president race, it is up to Kelantan deputy Menteri Besar Mohamad Amar Nik Abdullah to continue the challenge for the ulamas.

In announcing his intentions Amar said he is contesting for the ulamas as he is worried that PAS’ liberal stand may effect the Malay votes.

Currently there is an ongoing campaign against the professional faction within PAS.

However neither incumbents nor challengers from the ulama and liberal camps have launched stinging campaigns against one another.

This can be attributed to the election committee chairman Asmuni Awi’s warning that candidates who ‘put down’ their opponents would be hauled up by the discipline committee.

A PAS member even wrote an anonymous letter to a local news portal, asking incumbent deputy president Mohamad Sabu to make way for Tuan Ibrahim.

The writer claimed that the split among the Malays within the Islamist party had worsened and that Mohamad Sabu was unable to arrest the problem.

There was even a debate held in Shah Alam between the ulamas and liberal factions.

So far, intensity of the campaign appears to be more heated amongst the supporters compared to the candidates.

PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s message stating that ulamas should lead the party was used to increase the pressure – even though he said that all in PAS are considered ulamas.  Hadi’s recent announcement however, has seriously toned down the ulama camp campaigns.

He said that non-ulamas can be party chiefs and cited the case of Alias Abas, the second PAS president.  Alias is a non-ulama.