PAS’s new old Putrajaya team 

Sheridan Mahavera, TMI 

PAS does not believe in hype. That was one thing that a PAS grassroots leader said was what members have described as the most vicious (by its standards) party elections.

The second is that the grassroots reward hardworking, articulate, outward-looking leaders who do not just preach to the converted.

Party members with whom The Malaysian Insider spoke believe these were among the considerations they used to choose the people who will lead the party into its quest for federal power in the next three years.

The 18-member central working committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, which emerged last night was almost a carbon copy of the previous one that had steered the party into the 13th General Election.

It was CWC that was stocked with three groups: the so-called professionals, religious teachers and scholars, and activists.

Only four of the CWC members are new. And they were religious teachers who replaced mostly other religious teachers.

Yet the social media campaign waged in the months leading up to the elections framed it as a war between the party’s conservatives and its progressives.

The talk was that the conservatives were staging a comeback into the CWC, which had been dominated by progressives.

But the results, said PAS leaders, showed that the grassroots liked the formula of an urbane, open-minded PAS that worked hand-in-glove with Pakatan Rakyat allies, PKR and DAP, and wanted to deepen its ties with mainstream Malaysian society.

The results, which also saw veteran political organiser Mohamad Sabu being retained as deputy president, were an endorsement and acknowledgement of the old CWC’s track record in leading PAS in the last general election, said PAS Kuala Kedah division leader Nasir Zakaria.

By re-electing the same people, Nasir said, the grassroots acknowledged the hard work its leaders had put into expanding PAS support and winning seats despite the fact that it fared badly among rural Malay Muslims.

“It’s a realisation that our party is strong internally and that the challenges are external. Our loss of rural Malay Muslim support was not due to us but because we could not counter all the BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid),” said Nasir.

He also pointed to the fact that unlike what had been depicted in the pro-Umno media and in  social media, the grassroots were not swayed by talk that PAS was losing its way because it was ruled by progressives.

“It just shows that all this talk about ulama versus Erdogans versus professionals was just nonsense created by outsiders”.