PUTRAJAYA, May 22 (Malaysiaaktif) – The ulamas look set to continue leading PAS come June 4 when the Islamist party holds its polls in the face of uncertain ties with the other components of Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
This is despite the attempts by liberals to unseat them in the past few years but had each time failed. However, if the group comes out victorious this time around, PAS is expected to close ranks with its disparate allies in the coalition pact, despite claims to the contrary that PAS will only be playing second fiddle.
Incumbent party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is entrenched in his position as challenger, while former vice-president Ahmad Awang, does not seem to be much of a heavy weight, and in fact, some party veterans even see him as a spent force.
Seemingly to be a proxy of the liberals, Ahmad aims to keep the party within the folds of PR, which is exactly the intent of the liberal lot within.
The liberals in PAS have been trying to change the fundamentalists or ulama leadership of the party with the aim of winning Putrajaya through political co-operation with DAP and PKR under PR’s shadow.
The liberals, many sharing similar political ideology with jailed Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, do not mind living with PAS’s agenda of setting up an Islamic state and implementing Hudud Laws and being relegated to the back seat awhile, so long as the opposition can take over Putrajaya.
Failure to control the party when the liberals won nearly two-thirds of the 30 central working committee positions and the deputy president’s post in the party 2013 poll, they now try the presidency through proxy.
With the incumbent deputy president Mohamad Sabu expected to bite the dust in the June 4 poll, they now put up Ahmad, obviously not to win but to test their support among grassroots and the 3,000-odd delegates.
Unseating Hadi is no easy task and in the face of such challenges, the liberals can only try to strengthen their hold on the three vice-presidents posts and those of the central working committee.
With more than two weeks to the party poll, the liberals have silently admitted that Hadi would retain his post as president and Tuan Ibrahim would unseat Mat Sabu as deputy, leaving the three vice-president posts for grabs.
Another incumbent vice-president who is considered liberal is Datuk Husam Musa. He has announced that he would be defending his position, with Salehuddin Ayub doing the same.
Since Tuan Ibrahim is contesting the deputy president’s post, the grassroots have nominated Nasharuddin Tantawi, the Temerloh MP for the last slot in the vice-presidency.
Nasharuddin is the president’s man and he has all along been defending Hadi from attacks by DAP leaders, including Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
Another vice-president contender, Datuk Iskandar Samad, who is a Selangor state exco member, is also going in for the vice-president’s post. This will add to the numbers in Hadi’s team.
Iskandar is a Hadi loyalist, who tested his mettle during the Selangor Menteri Besar crisis, where he stood by then Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and Hadi in not wanting PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail to take over as Menteri Besar.
Looking at the present mood among grassroots and their anger at DAP, a Chinese-based party, which they view as trying to impose rather than share the opposition’s agenda, PAS grassroots still prefer the ulama leadership than the liberals.
The fundamentalists want PAS presence in PR as one of dignity and of same level to that of its partners DAP and PKR, and not merely as a tool to rally people for demonstrations and relegated to the backburner in the larger agenda of the opposition.
June 4 will see the ulama or fundamentalists strengthening their position and the liberals are expected to continue their attempts to gain control of the leadership, despite losing the second round.
And as far as PR is concern, PAS under the ulama leadership will not leave the pact unless the pact pushes the party out.