A Look At Some Of The PAS Professionals Who Fell

After weeks of smear campaigns and bitter infighting, the PAS muktamar which ended on Saturday saw leaders from the so-called “professionals” faction almost wiped out by the ulama class, whose characteristic long robes made a clean sweep of one of the Islamist party’s most controversial elections.

Among the losers were the faces PAS usually trots out at forums attended by all races – “progressive” leaders deemed more non-Muslim-friendly, and who often find themselves conducting damage control for the party to audiences hostile to PAS and its plans for hudud, the Islamic penal code.

One of them is Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who, since his early days, has made an attempt to push the party beyond its Malay-Muslim vote bank by pioneering the PAS Supporters Club – a group of non-Muslim PAS fans – which later evolved into the PAS Supporters’ Congress in 2010.

The chairman of PAS’s national unity bureau, Mujahid coined the party’s 2013 general election slogan “PAS for All”, which softened the Islamist party’s hard-line image and ultimately gained the support of non-Muslim voters, despite MCA’s concerted anti-hudud campaign.

Mujahid, son of former PAS president Yusof Rawa, is also known for his efforts to foster interfaith ties with Christians, and wrote a book about his experiences, titled “Engaging Christianity: A travelogue of peace”.

Outspoken leader Mohamed Hanipa Maidin was booed and jeered at the PAS muktamar last weekend when he defended his criticism of Hadi, and was even struck twice last year during a PAS central committee for calling the president weak and biased.

But the lawyer has been instrumental in engaging with the public over hudud on PAS’s behalf, and has written two books related to it: “Undang-Undang Hudud Perspektif Perbandingan” and “Prima Facie”.

He is also one of the few, if not only, PAS leader who has publicly stated that he believed the Islamic criminal law should be put on hold until people were ready to accept it.

In his career, Hanipa was the lawyer for former air force major Zaidi Ahmad who faced a court martial for issuing a statement to the media on how the indelible ink used in the general election in 2013 washed off easily.

Academic Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who heads PAS’s Research Centre, has always been seen as the voice of reason and moderation in the party and, like Mujahid, has strived to turn the party into one that is more “middle ground”.

During the controversial tussle over the word “Allah” among Muslims and Christians, the former Kuala Selangor MP was one of the few who were vocal in defending the Christians’ use of the Arabic word, on the grounds that it was not the exclusive right of Muslims.

In open letters and in forums, Dzulkefly has also defended the party’s decision to enforce hudud in Kelantan, citing democracy and the state government’s responsibility to fulfil the people’s wishes.

Meanwhile, Salahuddin Ayub’s loss in the contest for the PAS vice-presidency came as a surprise to many, as he was an uncontroversial figure and had held important posts in PAS for more than three decades, including the PAS Youth chief.

Dubbed “Mr Clean”, Salahuddin was seen as the bridge between the professionals and the ulama, but never took sides with any faction.

Like the ulama, he has maintained that any PAS member pushing for “liberal Islam” should be expelled, but was also quick to defend so-called “liberals” Mujahid, Dzulkefly and Khalid Samad by stating that they should be allowed to argue their views.

However, in the run-up to the PAS elections, Salahuddin, too, was implicated in an alleged plot to topple PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

Although investigations into the plot petered out because the accusers failed to attend a party inquiry, rumours of the conspiracy persisted and cost Salahuddin his votes, along with the other Pakatan Rakyat-friendly PAS leaders.

But not all of the professionals lost in the elections. The sole non-ulama to have survived is Felda activist Mazlan Aliman – but even he is mulling quitting his central committee post after being “disturbed” by the party’s turmoil.

Mazlan, who heads non-governmental organisation National Felda Settlers’ Children’s Association (Anak), rallies for the rights of the settlers and has made a name fighting against Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGVH).

During Thursday’s polls, delegates appeared to have voted according to a list of candidates endorsed by the ulama wing of the party which is largely pro-Hadi and influential over party affairs.

The list was circulated at the assembly of the Dewan Ulama.

The use of such lists is said to be rare in previous PAS elections, which have typically seen a mix of clerics, professionals and activists elected to the central committee.

But the PAS elections this year were held amid internal strife over differences towards Hadi’s leadership and the direction of PAS in balancing its Islamist agenda with political pragmatism.


Source: www.themalaysianinsider.com

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