The other side of accounts of the PAS political seminar
By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 — The majority of voters are not convinced with the current PAS leadership and perceive its leaders as the most dominant problem in the party, a new poll shows.
The poll conducted by Zentrum Future Studies Malaysia from 20 February 2008 to 5 March 2009 showed that 50 per cent of the 2,100 respondents found the main issue to be PAS’ leaders while 27 per cent regarded the party’s ideology as a major stumbling block.
The survey showed that only 31 per cent of respondents were in favour of the current party leadership.
The Zentrum poll also suggests that more Malaysians were in favour of PAS spiritual leader Datuk Niz Aziz Niz Mat compared to party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, with 83 per cent confident in Nik Aziz’s leadership compared to Hadi’s 33 per cent.
The survey showed that one in three respondents identified both Hadi and deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa as the weakness in the party leadership, while four per cent perceive Nik Aziz as the weak link.
The poll also indicates that 44 per cent of those surveyed viewed positively the leadership of PAS’ women’s wing, while the Youth wing and central party leaderships scored 25 and 24 per cent respectively.
Although the party leadership was popular among the age group of 41 to 50 years old, support from those between 21 and 30 was dwindling.
For PAS, getting the young is now a priority for the next general elections but Hadi’s low popularity with younger voters may be an obstacle, with 70 per cent of the 21-30 age group expressing a loss of confidence in the leader and 40 per cent considering him the weakness in the party. The survey also shows that 70 per cent of the age group are unhappy with the top two leaders in the party.
The poll suggests that Malaysians are wary of the hard-line stance that the party projects with the current conservative line-up led by Hadi and Nasharuddin.
The party now seems on course to further distance themselves from voters after 1,000 PAS delegates at a special seminar yesterday concluded that the party must stick to its Islamic line even at the expense of Pakatan Rakyat.
While Nik Aziz has endorsed the pact, many delegates remained suspicious of the role allies DAP and PKR could play in championing the Islamic cause.
They wanted the party to stick to its Islamic line, which has been blurred by Umno’s active Islamic campaigns that have included enacting laws such as caning for alcohol consumption.
The latest poll suggests that for PAS to become a mainstream political party, it needs to reform its hard-line stance to a more accommodating approach or risk not repeating the achievements of 2008 as the party can no longer rely on anti-Umno sentiments to support them.
University Malaya (UM) professor Dr Abu Hassan Hasbullah made that point clear when presenting the report at the seminar yesterday, saying that the trend to support the opposition could change in the next general elections.
“The days of ABU, Anything But Umno, are over,” he said bluntly.
KLANG, Nov 8 — Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said today he was disappointed with allegations made by PAS delegates yesterday that Pakatan Rakyat was not doing enough to champion Islam.
He told them to instead “walk the talk” themselves.
Yesterday at PAS’s special seminar, some party delegates accused PR of not championing Muslim rights and were suspicious what role Islam could play in its ties with allies DAP and PKR.
The Selangor Mentri Besar stressed today that Islam requires Muslims not only to preach but also to be proactive.
“Islam itself requires us to be proactive as a Muslim, it is not expecting other people or it is the Ummah (society) itself has the social responsibility but in Islam also it tells us that we must not only preach but also do.
“So if someone wants to complain that Pakatan Rakyat, then that Muslim has to say that he has spent 2,000 man hours promoting and there is nobody that has done it,” he said.
He added that the delegates must set a good example before making accusations.
“I myself am doing it, we don’t complain. We promote Islam,” he said.
Khalid also told PAS to earn its leadership role and not expect it.
“If you want to be a leader, people have to accept you as a leader. It is not you want people to say that you are a leader. No, you earn your leadership and respect,” he said.
Yesterday’s PAS seminar showed its members were now concerned over a blurring of lines and its future direction in PR.
Some 1,000 PAS delegates at the special seminar to strengthen the party and affirm its place in PR concluded that the party must stick to its Islamic line even at the expense of the federal opposition pact.
PAS Selangor were at loggerheads with PR when the party’s state commissioner Datuk Hasan Ali criticised the state’s select committee for competency, accountability and transparency (Selcat) for “bullying public servants” during a recent public inquiry.
The outburst by the PAS leader reignited discussions on Hasan’s loyalty and his party’s commitment to PR in Selangor.
Hasan previously clashed with PR colleagues over the sale of beer at convenience outlets in Shah Alam, and a plan to empower mosque committee members and workers to police immoral activities in the state.
PAS state liaison committee secretary Mohd Khairuddin Othman has also issued a statement of the party’s support for Hasan and warned that the party was considering pulling out of the state government.
Recently PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat wanted a special muktamar to rid the party of leaders whom he described as “problematic” and seen to favour working closely with Umno instead of strengthening PR.
He had named Hasan along with Nasharuddin and secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali as those who had made the party look inconsistent.
However, PAS central committee members recently unanimously decided not to call for a special muktamar but to hold yesterday’s seminar instead.
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 – PAS delegates slammed Dr Abdul Aziz Bari (pic) for criticising the party leadership but the UIA law professor remained unrepentant, arguing that his criticism was constructive.
Abdul Aziz courted controversy last month with an article published in Sinar Harian and stirred it further today when he asked why PAS members wanted to be close to Umno.
He had criticised the PAS leadership, which he saw aligned to president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, for allegedly pushing a merger with Umno.
The academic’s views formed the basis for PAS spiritual adviser, Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, to pursue an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in an attempt to cleanse the party of “problematic” leaders, but which was replaced with today’s seminar.
Delegates present from all over the country loudly denounced Abdul Aziz as an “Umno agent” for publicly raising the issue of a “unity government” once again.
They repeatedly pressed the constitutional expert to reveal his sources for the allegations, noting that Abdul Hadi had this morning stressed that PAS is committed to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) struggle to depose the ruling coalition and had shut the door on any more “unity” talks.
“Where did you get information to say that the president does not get along with Lim Kit Siang and Anwar Ibrahim?” a woman delegate asked, referring to the DAP and PKR leaders respectively.
The three opposition parties had joined forces after gaining major inroads among voters in the March 8 elections last year and had recently handed in their application to the Registrar of Societies to formalise their coalition.
Another delegate went further and called Abdul Aziz an “agent of the West” for forcing the concept of a two-party system on them.
The man, who did not identify himself, also likened the IIU don to an “agen nafsu”, which translates to a man with his own ulterior motives, for stirring up discord within PAS.
He received loud support from the floor, with cries of “Takbir!” and “Allahuakbar!”
Abdul Aziz took the verbal attacks in stride and explained that his criticism should be read constructively.
He added that he was only trying to stir the party’s imagination towards strengthening itself ahead of the next general election.
“Think for yourselves,” he advised.
“I did not insult the president or even mention his personal life. I only mentioned his post as the captain of this team,” he countered.
Likening the current political situation to a football match, Abdul Aziz claimed that he had the right as a “paying spectator” to comment.
Not all delegates found his views repugnant, judging from the way they leapt to his defence.
A woman delegate commended him for his willingness to share his bold views openly. She suggested that the leaders should note down his ideas because views from the grassroots which were conveyed through the proper party channels did not always gain traction.
Another delegate asked the rest of his partymen to keep an open mind and not take Abdul Aziz’s comments to heart.
“We must change. Medicine is usually bitter while food which taste sweet are the causes of sickness,” the young man said.
But many others remained unconvinced.
Two delegates from the Federal Territory slammed Abdul Aziz for failing to back up his allegations, unlike his fellow panellist, Universiti Malaya (UM) analyst, Dr Abu Hassan Hasbullah.
Abu Hassan had presented a detailed report predicting the future outcome of PAS based on a study carried out among 2,000 people.
“The more important thing now is to strengthen the party. Abu Hassan’s research will be good for our party,” said one man from the Kepong division.
The UM don’s survey results, backed by hard statistics, found greater favour among the delegates even though he shared the same ideas with Abdul Aziz.
Abu Hassan said that PAS must carry out serious reforms now if it wants to win the next general election.