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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PAS will remain intact despite two camps

PAS will not allow the two schools of thoughts to split the party as it firmly upholds a common ideology, according to observers.

PETALING JAYA: PAS may have two prominent schools of thoughts but their opposing stand is unlikely to split the party, an academician said today.

Mohammad Agus Yusoff said that PAS subscribed to one common ideology althouth it has two different approaches or methods.

“On the one hand, the ulamas believe that some compromise can be made with Umno for the unity of Muslims.

“On the other, the Erdogans are seen to be more liberal as they are more willing to compromise with the non-Muslims. This group is seen to be more pro-Anwar (Ibrahim),” said Mohammad Agus, an associate professor in the political science department at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

He was commenting on news reports on the upcoming PAS annual general meeting or muktamar where most candidates who are contesting for the party polls are either with the ulama or Erdogan faction.

The term “Erdogan” is loosely used to describe professionals or intelectuals in the party. It refers to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan who is seen to be a moderate Muslim.

Said Mohammad Agus: “PAS has a firm grip over its ideology compared to, say, Umno. Its main concern is to see that Islam is upheld. The special thing about PAS is that the leaders will accept whatever the delegates decide without making much noise as they respect the party’s common ideology.”

He added that as a result of the leaders’ united stand on their ideology, their different methods would not cause a split in the party.

Mohammad Agus also said that Umno, which is governed by material gains, was often prone to bickering unlike PAS whose members are united under a common belief.

Committed to change

He dismissed the suggestion that the two camps – ulamas and Erdogan – could be a major stumbling block to party unity as the former is said to be willing to compromise with Umno while latter is seen to be more pro-Anwar.

“PAS right now is committed to change. I can see that PAS is serious about it. Even though Islam is always brought up to show the differences between the parties in Pakatan, they still share similar views on issues such as economic equality and social justice,” he said.

Another PAS analyst, Farish Noor, sees the existence of the two schools of thoughts as merely “artificial”.

“Since the time of PAS president Yusof Rawa (1982-1988), more and more intellectuals and professionals are attracted to PAS, and the trend remains the same today,” said Farish, a senior fellow at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

“This reflects the demographic changes in Malaysia and the emergence of a new urban conservative middle-class elite, who are more likely to turn to PAS than Umno,” he added.

On the muktamar this weekend, Mohammad Agus said that the focus would be on the 13th general election.

“There won’t be any open clashes between the candidates. They would most likely amicably accept the decision of the delegates and discuss matters related to the coming general election. Of course, there will be the standard government bashing,” he said

Interesting contests

Mohammad Agus said that the contests between the candidates would be interesting as the party does not vote according to their aligned blocks.

“Say, you are with the ulama in Block A. This doesn’t mean the whole block A will vote for the ‘ulama’ candidate. Delegates have always voted based on the merits of the candidates. So it interesting to see what will happen,” he said.

The 57th muktamar will be held from June 3 to 5 in Taman Melewar, Gombak, where delegates will choose the top leaders in the party.

Party elections committee chief, Abdul Halim Abd Rahman, had said that the contest this year was the “hottest”.

Party president Abdul Hadi Awang had retained his position uncontested. His deputy, Nasharudin Mat Isa, will defend his post against popular grassroots leader Mohamad Sabu and Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

Six candidates are vying for the three vice-president posts. They are Kelantan executive council members Husam Musa and Mohd Amar Abdullah, party information chief Idris Ahmad, former Perak menteri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar (incumbent) and Kubang Kerian MP Salahuddin Ayub (incumbent). The olther incumbent is Tuan Ibrahim who is not defending his post.

A total of 53 other candidates will be contesting for 18 positions in the central working committee.

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