Lost ‘love’ between leaders sign of fracture within PAS?


Alyaa Alhadjri, The Ant Daily

It may be a recurring theme for PAS members but it is clear that there is no disguising the ‘battle line’ which has been drawn between the progressive and conservative factions at the upcoming party polls in June.

That one spontaneous whisper is perhaps the most telling sign of an undeniable fracture within the Islamist party; and perhaps, its future.

“Confirm-lah diorang tak mau (datang),” said a lady in the audience at a recent forum on the future of PAS post-party elections, referring to PAS youth chief contender Nik Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz and his running-mate, Khalil Abdul Hadi.

The day’s moderator had just announced the duo’s absence as panelists at the forum that also featured two sons of PAS past party chief, Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Faiz Fadzil, alongside veteran journalist Subky Latif.

A chat with one of the organisers later revealed that Khalil said he would only be free after the elections are over, while Nik Abduh never responded to their invitation.

Nik Abduh is of course the son of the late Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat – former PAS spiritual adviser – while Khalil, more known within the party circle, is son of incumbent PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

Nik Abduh and Khalil – recognised as the faces of younger conservative leaders within PAS –will be teaming up against incumbent youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat, who is partnered with Raja Iskandar Ahmad Al-Hiss.

The forum, organised by PAS Lembah Pantai division youth wing, was aimed at discussing the need to continue the values and legacies under leadership of Yusof Rawa and Fadzil Noor –the party’s fifth and sixth presidents – before the presidency was held by Abdul Hadi.

Both Mujahid and Fadzil noted that PAS, under Abdul Hadi’s leadership, have lost many of the characteristics which had been ingrained within its members through examples set by past leaders.

They took turns to recall childhood memories of interactions between their fathers, though at the time they were too young to understand its significance.

Mujahid said he had grown up during the time of PAS under the leadership of Dr Asri Muda.

“I was only in Form 3 at the time and I remember following my father to a ‘mukhayyam’ (camping) trip in Weng (an area in Baling, Kedah). We took the ferry from Penang.

“Once we arrived, my father drove his Peugeot and picked up Ustaz Fadzil Noor who was waiting. I sat in the backseat and they were laughing all the way,” said the Parit Buntar MP.

Mujahid told the forum that the point he wished to illustrate through the story was the harmonious relationship between the two leaders.

“This is among the secrets of our past leaders. Though at time, I didn’t understand its (harmonious relationship) significance,” he added.

Faiz, meanwhile, also said his father would regularly visit Yusof Rawa in Penang to discuss party issues.

“This close relationship did not stop between our fathers. When I followed my father to their home, Mujahid’s sister would take me around Penang.

“At that time, even the late Nik Aziz had slept over at our house. Now, I don’t see that ‘mahabbah’ (love) between our current leaders,” said the 38-year-old Syariah lawyer who is contesting for a spot in the PAS Youth Wing central committee.

The extent of factionalism within PAS was perhaps summed up by incumbent deputy president Mohamad Sabu, invited to launch Mujahid’s latest book on celebrating diversities of opinions in Islam.

“Now it is different. The trend (within PAS) is to label (each other from opposite factions). Sometimes they don’t even want to shake each other’s hands,” said Mat Sabu who is defending his post against incumbent vice-president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

Citing recent developments around the Arab world, Mat Sabu said there are now at least seven different Muslim groups in Syria, 12 in Iraq and seven in Afghanistan; each with a leader who dared to label the other groups as being infidels.

“And now (in Malaysia and in PAS), there are also (such) Muslim groups.

“We have groups that label others as liberals, ‘munafik haraki’ (a term created to define Muslims whose loyalty and obedience are to non-Muslim leaders) and ‘lawyer neraka (hell)’,” said Mat Sabu.

He added that if the problem is allowed to continue, Muslims will be caught in a long-term conflict as is already happening now in the Middle East.

Overall, the trend of contesting (and winning) in ‘teams’ have been observed in this year’s PAS divisional elections where leaders such as former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin and Meru assemblyman Dr Abdul Rani Osman, had lost their division chief positions to lesser known leaders from the ulama camp.

Apart from straight fights for the top two positions, there are also two ‘teams’ among six candidates contesting for the three positions of vice-president.

At the end of the day, as noted by Mujahid, PAS delegates must remember that this upcoming election will not only determine the future of their own party but could also impact the country’s political landscape.

Abdul Hadi’s latest warning that PAS is ready to severe ties with DAP could point at signs of his personal unwillingness to continue the party’s cooperation with Pakatan Rakyat.

The delegates must then decide, whether they agree with Abdul Hadi’s perceived arrogance, or otherwise.