Three things we learned from: PAS Muktamar 2020

KUALA LUMPUR : This year’s PAS Muktamar, or annual congress, is the first to take place after the Islamist party became part of the federal government in March.

PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang  officiating the 66th PAS Annual Congress at the Kelantan Islamic Training Center in Pengkalan Chepa, Sept 13, 2020. — Bernama pic
PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang officiating the 66th PAS Annual Congress at the Kelantan Islamic Training Center in Pengkalan Chepa, Sept 13, 2020. — Bernama pic

It, however, still chose to hold the event in its traditional homebase of Kelantan even though the Muslimat wing had opted for Kuala Lumpur.

The focus of last year’s Muktamar was PAS’ cooperation with Umno under the umbrella of Malay unity.

This year’s topics all revolved around the theme of “Islam to Strengthen Unity” and the party’s preparations for the next general election with new allies, Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Muafakat Nasional (MN).

Notably, PAS’ usual demand for more power for the Shariah Courts via the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355 to implement hudud laws across Malaysia was more muted.null

So, with that in mind, what were the three main takeaways from PAS Muktamar 2020?

The new normal

Delegates and guests of the 66th PAS Annual Congress are seen at the Kelantan Islamic Training Centre Hall (PUTIK) Pengkalan Chepa September 13, 2020. — Bernama pic
Delegates and guests of the 66th PAS Annual Congress are seen at the Kelantan Islamic Training Centre Hall (PUTIK) Pengkalan Chepa September 13, 2020. — Bernama pic

This year’s Muktamar was relatively low key with less of the party’s trademark cry of “Takbir” than before due to restrictions imposed by the party in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For starters, there were only about 400 delegates inside the main hall and scattered around Pusat Tarbiyah Islamiyah Kelantan (PUTIK).

In fact, delegates from Perlis, Kedah and Sabah were advised not to attend, with most speakers conducting their debates and talks virtually.

Dr Ali Akhbar Gulasan, a PAS delegate representing Sabah. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Dr Ali Akhbar Gulasan, a PAS delegate representing Sabah reminded party leaders to be mindful of their statements or remarks when commenting on sensitive issues, may not go down well in East Malaysia.― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

However, Sabah PAS’ delegation, Aliakbar Gulasan, as well as PAS spiritual leader Datuk Hashim Jasin from Perlis were allowed to step foot inside the hall to give their speeches.

Perikatan Nasional and GE15

As one of its founding members, PAS called for cooperation and unity within the PN coalition.

PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang delivering the opening speech of the 66th PAS Annual Congress at the Kelantan Islamic Education Center in Pengkalan Chepa September 13, 2020. — Bernama pic
PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang delivering the opening speech of the 66th PAS Annual Congress at the Kelantan Islamic Education Center in Pengkalan Chepa September 13, 2020. — Bernama pic

Its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang reminded party members to uphold the spirit of political cooperation as they head into the 15th general election (GE15), stating that they have never lost while remaining steadfast to their Islamic beliefs.

In his opening speech at the Muktamar, Abdul Hadi said that each and every party member should be doing their duty to promote and defend the Islamic faith.

“All party members are part of the machinery of constant struggle.

“Let history repeat itself: PAS has never lost when cooperating politically with other parties as long as we stick to our Islamic beliefs,” he said.

The sentiment was also repeated during debates of his speech, where members were urged to trust the leadership and accept its decisions, including PAS’ agreement not to contest the Sabah state election that is taking place at the end of this month.

Talk of political cooperation aside, no prominent leaders from Umno, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia or PN graced the Muktamar due to both the ongoing recovery movement control order (RMCO) restrictions as well as the fact that campaigning for the Sabah state election kicked off yesterday.

Datuk Hassan Mohamood, a PAS delegate representing Kelantan urged the Islamic party leaders to temporarily stop the call for the implementation of hudud law.

Only the president of Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, who is allied with PAS through Gagasan Sejahtera, attended the Muktamar’s opening.

PAS’ performance on social media

The debate over the role of social media in PAS heated up after the PAS Youth delegate from Batu Krau, Abu Anas Omar Khayyam Mohd Hanafiah, spoke about the purported failure of Mujahid Cyber (PAS’ cybertroopers).

Perwakilan Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Abdul Rani Mohamad Daud

PAS should approach certain groups of people as a means to garner more support for the party. As a means to attract more members and shore up support for PAS, party state commissioners and even its division heads should be conferred honorary titles, such as ‘Datuk’ and the like, said PAS Federal Territories delegate Abdul Rani Mohamad Daud.

He quoted a report by PAS Youth that their performance only gained 12.5 per cent evaluation from the party.

Party information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad also said that PAS members should be more active online and function as cybertroopers to counter negative sentiment about the party with positive narratives.

Abu Anas Omar Khayyam Mohd Hanafiah, a representative from Batu Kurau think that ‘PAS Cybertroopers’ has failed in manipulating issues for propaganda and attacking the Opposition

“In GE13, the information penetration from new media was about 30 per cent. In GE14, it was about 60 per cent. In GE15, I forecast that this will be around 90 per cent.

“So I call upon ‘tuan-tuan’ to turn yourselves into cybertroopers.

“If we fail to grasp this opportunity, then the enemy will take the chance to use it as propaganda against us,” he said during his closing speech.

Melaka delegate, Bakri Jamaluddin, summed it up by saying that Pakatan Harapan and the Opposition only presented the kleptocracy narrative on social media and suggested that PAS emphasise their purported lies instead.

“If they play the ‘curi’ (theft) card, we can play the ‘kencing’ (lies) one.

PAS Muktamar adopts eight resolutions

The 66th PAS Muktamar (general assembly) unanimously passed eight resolutions.

The resolution, submitted by Dewan Ulama representative Muhammad Najhan Shahir Abdul Halim, among others, urged all Muslims and Islamic governments to protest and condemn the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well as any form of normalisation of diplomatic relations with Israel to curb the expansion of its political power and occupation of Palestine.

The council also condemned the actions of the Arab League, UAE and Bahrain which recognised the normalisation of diplomatic relations with Israel, which is a form of violation and hostility towards the Ummah.

It also urged the Malaysian government to study the ‘two-state solution’ in its foreign relations pertaining to the Palestinian issue by emphasising the history and religious values for the benefit of Palestine and its people with a just solution.

Meanwhile, the second resolution submitted by the Central PAS Muslimat Council, represented by Asmak Husin, is on the issue of gambling, and the authorities have been urged to combat illegal gambling activities that are becoming more prevalent.

Delegates from the PAS Women Wing attend the annual PAS Muktamar in Kuala Lumpur September 11, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Delegates from the PAS Women Wing attend the annual PAS Muktamar in Kuala Lumpur September 11, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Meanwhile, six other resolutions were adopted without debate, including Titiwangsa PAS’ demand for stern action to be taken against individuals, community groups or irresponsible political party leaders who insult the Rukun Negara as well as other national symbols as a form of joke.

The next resolution is from the Muslimat (Women) wing for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) under the Ministry of Finance, to give flexibility to contributors to use the funds from Account 2 (30 per cent of contribution) for the purpose of performing the haj, particularly for first time applicants.

Another resolution adopted is from the Padang Rengas division who suggested that the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) to create a national higher education endowment to reduce the financial burden of students affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, while Balik Pulau recommended that the MOHE make Islamic Education a compulsory subject in examinations for Muslim students.

Meanwhile, PAS Youth proposed the establishment of policies, guidelines and procedures for the management of political funds in line with Islamic policy and relevant laws.

It also suggested that PAS should be given a minimum of 50 per cent of Malay majority seats in Perak, of which 20 per cent should be represented by youth.

BY : RADZI RAZAK AND DANIAL DZULKIFLY – MALAY MAIL

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