PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s policy speech next Thursday is much awaited, for it will be point the direction the Islamist party will take – stay in or stay out of the opposition pact (Pakatan Rakyat).
Hadi’s speech, to be delivered on the morning of the first day of the party assembly or muktamar, where polling will be conducted after lunch break, is expected to touch on the party’s struggle, as well as the leadership style.
The speech is also expected to give an inkling on which direction it should take under the present circumstances, where PR is trying to stick together amidst differences in ideologies and approach.
The Islamist party has been plagued with internal problems, as well as problems with its partners the past few decades, including with Barisan Nasional (BN) and Semangat 46, but this time, the problem is totally different.
Presently, the party is having a stand-off with the liberals within, who are bent on taking control of the leadership and the veteran fundamentalists who will defend their position tooth and nails.
The most crucial are the liberals trying to shift the party’s core struggle to set up an Islamic state and implement Hudud laws and to winning the general election first and compromise the core objectives to accommodate partners in the pact.
The incumbent veteran fundamentalists in the leadership hierarchy have set their minds on what should be their next move and what they should do to those who oppose their objectives – whether these people are inside the party (the liberals) and those outside the party, such as the clear-cut anti-Islamic state and Hudud laws in the Chinese-based DAP and the multi-racial but direction-less PKR.
Hadi’s speech may provide an insight of the party’s current problems – within and without – and he is expected to chart the course of the party so that party members and supporters know exactly which side they are on between the liberals and the fundamentalist and between being members of an Islamic political movement and associates of political parties with different ideologies and philosophies.
In this aspect, he is expected to outline the perspective the party should take with the aim to achieve its long awaited goals vis-à-vis the political reality in a changing landscape and ideologies.
The Islamist party leaders and members, who are now divided visibly between liberals and fundamentalists, will take the cue from the speech and the debate is expected to be hot and wild.
The liberals, who until today insist on the party to continue its political co-operation with DAP and PKR, are expected to make a stand on whether to stay on, or leave PAS, while the fundamentalists seem ready to face the consequences.
For the fundamentalists, their stand is clear – opposing the setting up of an Islamic state and implementation of Hudud laws are considered opposing Islam, and thus opposing PAS.
But one thing is clear – party leaders and members and even PAS supporters see the DAP is helping the liberals to oust Hadi and replace him with someone they feel can agree sit in the opposition and play second-fiddle to dominant DAP.
Ahmad Awang is no challenger to Hadi and party members question his rational in accepting the nomination to go against Hadi.
The Islamist party members, not leaders, are not game in supporting leaders backed by outsiders to take over the party, worse off when they know some of these leaders are playing second-fiddle to leaders of other parties in the pact.
Given the scenario, Hadi’s speech will be the sign PAS’ partners in PR – DAP and PKR – is looking for to know the Islamist party’s true stand in the opposition pact.
And they just have to wait till Thursday next week.