Tuesday 16 September 2014



.For a party that is so obsessed with the principle of amanah (trust), PAS is in a bizarre position as the Islamist party has lost so much trust in so little time since Election 2013 when the coalition it is a part of won more federal seats.

But the Selangor menteri besar impasse has put the spotlight on the party's 60th muktamar next week where the question is about how much of that lost trust it wants to win back.

As PAS heads into its assembly, this deficit of trust is like a wound that splits its upper echelons all the way down to people who voted them in.

Its leaders cannot trust each other to carry out collective decisions. Its partners in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) cannot trust PAS will support their schemes in the states they rule.

Voters, meanwhile, can’t trust them not to sneak in a controversial, constitution-changing religious law when they’re in power.

Although there is much talk of whether party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang will be censured or ousted for his actions in the Selangor MB impasse, observers feel that it will not change the fact that the Islamist party has probably reached a certain ideological limit.

How it behaved in the Kelantan hudud bill issue and the Selangor menteri besar crisis showed that the party is unable to reconcile some of its long-held aims with the demands of working in a modern political coalition.

This muktamar will then be about whether the party has the imagination and courage to transcend those limits.


A senior PAS leader did not want to sugar coat the mood in the party when asked about his thoughts going into the muktamar.

“Its bleak,” said the PAS leader who requested anonymity.

The point of no return was when Hadi decided to ignore his central committee’s decision on who to nominate to replace Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as the Selangor menteri besar.

Political analyst Dr Wong Chin Huat said Hadi’s move undermined one of the key tenets of modern political parties in that they must be predictable and follow certain rules.

Since a president is beholden to a collective decision made by his central committee, he should predictably follow it through.

“PAS under Hadi is so unpredictable, and that is bad. How are you supposed to deal with a party that is unpredictable?” said Wong, of the Penang Institute.

This anger towards Hadi’s conduct is expected to make itself felt in the assembly either through speeches from the floor or a motion of no confidence against him.

PAS information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar said to date, there has not been any application for a motion against the president.

But according to party sources, there are provisions for an emergency motion of that sort.

Even if Hadi survives such a motion, his credibility and standing would have taken a significant hit.

This would pave the way for someone to challenge him in the party’s next election cycle in 2016. 

But even if Hadi is replaced, there still remains the fact that PAS’s conservatives still have a strong grip on the party.

And it is these ideologues who will continue to push for hudud law and the establishment of an Islamic state.

The pursuit of these aims will continue to make it hard for PAS to work with its more secular allies in PR and more importantly, to convince non-Muslims to vote for it again.

When it pushed for the Kelantan hudud bill after the 2013 elections, said former Johor DAP leader Norman Fernandez, PAS showed how sneaky it was. 

This is since non-Muslims voted for PAS because it pledged to hold on to the PR common manifesto, said Fernandez. Hudud was not part of that manifesto. 

This is the element in PAS that is even trickier to solve than an errant president.

The concept of an Islamic state and the laws that go with it are wired into the party’s identity.

The challenge then, said political analyst Wan Saiful Wan Jan, was how to translate and re-interpret these concepts for a modern, plural Malaysia.

Wan Saiful believes that PAS’s current doctrine of “leadership by ulama” (Muslim scholar) is hampering the party’s ability to find new ways to interpret its Islamist goals.

The doctrine gave birth to PAS’s influential Syura Council, a body of elder Muslim scholars who ensure that the party’s actions conform to what it considers Islamic principles.   

“At the time, the doctrine was good and it really brought the party to where it is now where it is respected in the villages and mosques,” said Wan Saiful of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs. 

Unfortunately, the scholars who influence the party’s direction do not have the intellectual prowess to reinterpret its Islamist agenda for a new era and to take PAS to the next level, said Wan Saiful.

“It was good for producing good village chiefs and elected representatives. But unsuitable for producing a chief minister or a federal level minister”.   

So even if PAS solves the problem of one misbehaving leader at this assembly, it is still saddled with a policy that chooses leaders that may not be suited for governing anywhere else in Malaysia except Kelantan. 

Replacing Hadi could help PAS restore trust among its allies. But reassessing its leadership doctrine could produce a line of leaders who could restore the public’s trust.
 – September 16, 2014.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/the-little-matter-of-trust-at-stake-in-pass-60th-muktamar#sthash.zmQhuTBB.dpuf

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