Struggling for the soul of PAS
ANALYSIS: All seem calm in PAS but party grassroots members are not buying it. They fear that beneath this seemingly unruffled surface, a storm is brewing.
Their fears are well-founded. As PAS gears up for its party elections in November, the liberals and the conservatives are poised to engage in a bitter struggle for control of the soul of the Islamist party.
The liberals or progressives like deputy president Mohamed Sabu (pix, left) and vice-president Datuk Husam Musa (right) are eager to take on the ulamas or conservatives led by party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (centre).
The rivalry between the young liberals aligned to PKR de facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the ulama group still exists in the party. Political observers said the rivalry has intensified with the upcoming polls.
Husam, Mohamed Sabu and Zulkifli Ahmad (director of strategy and a central committee member) and a few others are not expected to “sit still” and watch the leadership of the party “slip” from their palms.
At one stage, the liberals were close to forging stronger ties with PKR but after the 13th general election, their attempts faltered because Hadi and his supporters distanced themselves from PKR.
The ulama group did not rally around Anwar when he launched the nationwide “black” rally to protest the results of the GE13.
The party’s Ulama Council stepped up its resistance to the Anwar faction, openly opposing several moves made by the liberals in allowing the party to “play second fiddle” to PKR.
But according to party insiders, the liberal camp is preparing a resolution questioning the leadership of Hadi at the November muktamar (general assembly).
While Hadi is expected to retain his post, all the other seats (from the deputy presidency to the CEC) will be up for grabs.
“The progressives want to know how much the party has achieved under Hadi,” said an insider.
Political observers believe the resolution is one of the liberals’ tactics to pin down Hadi and his fundamentalist group.
If they succeed in casting doubts on the leadership qualities of Hadi, they hope their men will be able to oust all those conservatives vying for posts in the CEC and the deputy presidency.
If this is successful, the party under the liberal faction will be toeing the PKR line, with one objective being to make Anwar the prime minister if Pakatan Rakyat can come to power.