Key takeaways from PAS muktamar

A surprisingly muted affair, considering it involved a leadership election.

ANALYSIS | The 67th PAS muktamar was a surprisingly muted affair, considering that it involved a leadership election and lingering questions on whether the party was still committed to Umno.

Normally, a PAS annual delegates assembly will be filled with rhetoric on the musuh (enemy), but this time around major themes across speeches centred on alliances and loyalty.

Malaysiakini was one such musuh that was not allowed to enter the muktamar venue – the four-star state-government-owned Duyong Marina & Resort, Kuala Terengganu – but was able to tune into speeches online.

This is a summary of recurring themes throughout the assembly.

Fluid alliances

A key question going into the muktamar was whether the delegates favoured an alliance with Umno through the Muafakat Nasional pact or Perikatan Nasional, which Umno has rejected.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s policy speech saw him adopting strategic ambiguity, wherein he explained how both Muafakat and PN were part of the party’s grand plan towards its goals.

On one hand, he said Muafakat’s purpose was to unite major Malay-Muslim groups while PN serves as a “national unity” platform.

When the delegates spoke at the muktamar, they would tread carefully to avoid any rhetoric which could upset either Muafakat or PN backers.

What was telling was that despite the last muktamar having passed a resolution to “defend” the now-defunct PN-government and “strengthen” Muafakat, none of the delegates objected to PAS going head-to-head with Umno during the Malacca elections.

A delegate from Malacca, Sudin Nooh, chimed, telling the assembly that although PN and Muafakat will clash during the elections, the party has to remember that its ultimate goal was Muslim unity.

“We will see what are the results of this election. It will be a yardstick for the 15th general election.

“We need to unite… We formed this party with the agenda to unite the ummah and it will remain our agenda,” Sudin said.

Unlike last year, there weren’t any resolutions that touched on either PN or Muafakat, leaving the question of PAS’ allegiance hanging.

All the president’s men

The muktamar this year included a leadership election that saw little changes to the top three positions.

However, three key figures failed to be re-elected to the PAS central committee – Khairuddin Aman Razali, Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz and Che Abdullah Mat Nawi.

Until Sunday, Khairuddin was considered an up-and-coming PAS leader. He has held various positions in the PAS ulama wing since 2009 and in the central committee since 2013.

His defeat came as a surprise, given his relative popularity in recent years. However, Khairuddin is best remembered in PAS circles recently for his alleged role in an audio recording where people spoke disparagingly of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

Publicly, Khairuddin has downplayed the role of the audio recording in his defeat.

Another unexpected defeat was that of Nik Abduh, who, to an extent, is widely respected in the party because he is the scion of former PAS spiritual leader, the late Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

Like Khairuddin, Nik Abduh had quickly risen up the PAS ranks. Both Nik Abduh and Khairuddin are widely believed to be among PAS figures who preferred that the party works with Umno, rather than Perikatan Nasional.

Loyalty, or wala in Arabic, was a recurring theme throughout the muktamar.

Secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan had set the tone early, using an analogy of a football team, where players cannot act as coach or manager at the same time.

Such sentiments were echoed by many delegates. Perlis PAS delegate Ustaz Muhammad Azmir Azizan stressed that unquestioning loyalty to the party president was necessary for the party to succeed.

“When our president says turn right, we shall turn right. Don’t turn left. If the president says turn left, don’t turn right.

“Sometimes, even after a long journey, the president will suddenly ask us to U-turn. We will have to follow suit,” Muhammad Azmir said.

By : N FAIZAL GHAZALI – MALAYSIAKINI

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