Famous sons rise in Youth wing


They are known as ‘anak Tok Guru’ or the offspring of the religious scholars and they are about to take the PAS Youth wing by storm.

Joceline Tan, The Star

NIK Abduh Nik Aziz caused a stir when he confirmed that he was going for the PAS Youth leadership. This “anak Tok Guru” has a strong following among the younger set in PAS and they were thrilled with the news.

But it sent a chill down the spine of the incumbent Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat who is aiming for a second term.

It is not going to be easy for Suhaizan because Nik Abduh is the son of the late Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and also Pasir Mas MP. He is an ulama and an icon for the party’s young Turks who want to see the party return to its original struggle.

But Nik Abduh is only half of Suhaizan’s problems. The Johor-born Suhaizan has struggled from day one to make his mark in the Dewan Pemuda or Youth wing. He won by a majority of 16 votes in the 2013 party election and his team was thrashed by the pro-ulama group.

Khalil: Multilingual  religious scholar

Khalil: Multilingual religious scholar

Instead of making concessions to the dominant pro-ulama group, he appointed his supporters who had lost to key positions in his Youth committee. It created so much resentment that Suhaizan had problems carrying out programmes.

Everything boiled over at last year’s Dewan Pemuda muktamar in Johor when delegates openly criticised him and staged a walkout on the opening day. There were shouting matches, banging of tables and the atmosphere was so emotional that the permanent chairman Kamal Ashaari had chest pains and was rushed to hospital.

But Suhaizan’s dosa besar or big sin is that he is aligned to the group that wants Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang Hadi replaced and that he has failed to defend the president.

It has been terribly awkward for him because his deputy Youth chief for the last two years is none other than Hadi’s eldest son, Muhammad Khalil Hadi, who is a rising star among the young ulama.

That is the backdrop to the contest for the Dewan Pemuda leadership.

The fight is more than a simple contest among the Youth generation. Suhaizan and his running mate Dr Raja Iskandar Al-Hiss are up against two of the most “famous sons” of PAS.

Raja Iskandar: Representing professional group

Raja Iskandar: Representing professional group

Nik Abduh’s running mate is Khalil and they are the favourites to win. The family name is a big boost but the two also have distinct personalities in their own right.

Nik Abduh, 35, is the spitting image of his father. He is quite hardline in his thinking but reporters covering Parliament find that he carries himself well, speaks politely and has definite opinions. He is looked up to in the party as a religious scholar and mixes well with party members.

He was supposed to have contested the Youth chief post in 2013 but was advised against it because the Youth wing has to be a voice of conscience and his supporters thought it would be awkward with his father as the Mursyidul Am and the son as Youth chief.

Khalil is going through the same situation. He was ready to move up from his No.2 post but the Dewan Pemuda would be compromised with him as the Youth chief and his father as the president.

Khalil, 38, resembles his mother more than his firebrand father. His style is also more decorous and he speaks Arabic, Urdu and English. He studied in Pakistan, Yemen and Britain. On his return, he was immediately noticed for his ability to deliver religious lectures off the cuff and without the need for notes.

But not all famous sons are with the pro-ulama group. Faiz Fadzil, the son of the late PAS president Datuk Fadzil Mohd Noor, has thrown his support behind Suhaizan.

Faiz, 38, who practises as a lawyer in Seremban, has also campaigned for Ahmad Awang who is challenging Datuk Hadi Awang for the presidency.

The tall, handsome and contemporary-looking Faiz has claimed that the Youth wing would not be able to move forward under Nik Abduh. But he has been unable to convince his audience that Suhaizan can do a better job.

Suhaizan and Dr Raja Iskandar represent that generation of Malay professionals who gravitated to PAS after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking in 1998.

Suhaizan has a reputation as an activist but suffered a setback when he lost in the general election. Dr Raja Iskandar is a lecturer who did his PhD in Britain. He is also the Perak Youth chief and Kuala Kangsar division head.

Unfortunately, they are struggling with the tail-end of PAS’ flirtation with moderation.

Suhaizan: Defending his No.1 post

PAS became more open and inclusive after 1998. But the party has come full circle. Conservatism is back in fashion and the ulama are about to dominate again after years of playing second fiddle to the professionals.

Signs of the conservative shift were visible as early as in the 2011 party election when the pro-ulama group won the majority of posts in the Dewan Pemuda. The group tightened its hold in the 2013 polls and, this time, it is going for a clean sweep in the Youth wing. It will be phenomenal if that happens.

The Gen X has arrived and it is the future face of PAS.