KUALA LUMPUR, 4 June 2009: Debates at the PAS Youth muktamar today were heavily tinged with a pro-ulama flavour.
However, there were no strident calls for the PAS deputy president’s post to be given to a cleric at the main party elections tomorrow.
Speakers today, however, upheld the concept of leadership by ulama with some saying professionals were also needed to help the party.
It is thought that the debates today will influence to some extent the voting trend tomorrow, where two “professionals” Datuk Husam Musa and Mohamad Sabu are challenging incumbent Nasharuddin Mat Isa, a religious teacher, for the deputy presidency.
Delegates debating the speech of outgoing Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub were more concerned with the need for leadership by ulama to preserve the status of Islam.
Perlis delegate Mohd Yasir Desa said leadership by ulama had to be defended or PAS would be like a piece of sinking wood. He said leadership by religious experts would be able to put PAS at the forefront of Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
Kelantan’s Mohd Latiff Abdul Rahman, who is also the state’s youth chief, lamented that PAS was not yet a leader in PR, but only a “sleeping partner”.
Pahang delegate Shahril Azman Abd Halim said leadership by ulama was still relevant for the party even in the changed context after the 2008 general election.
“Where there are the ulama, PAS will flourish on the strength and wisdom of the ulama. Our ulama are not just those with religious knowledge, but we also have professional ulama who can guide and lead the party,” he said.
Shahril Azman said failure to protect leadership by ulama will see PAS becoming like Umno, resulting in Islam being “pawned”.
He referred to the cabinet’s decision to disallow unilateral conversions of children to Islam by one parent.
Shahril Azman was not the only delegate who did. Johor’s Abdul Hamid Jamal said the cabinet’s decision made it look as if Islam had “lost its direction”.
Abdul Hamid said support for PAS had grown and the party was now a government-in-waiting.
Sabah delegate Lahirul Latinggu urged PAS to pay more attention to members in Sabah whom he said lacked religious guidance.
He also sounded the call for leadership by ulama, saying that Sabah PAS did not have enough religious experts.
“We are far behind. We need the guidance of ulama. We must remember that BN has called Sabah their fixed deposit. Umno depends on Sabah. Politically, if PAS can control Sabah, then we can control the whole of Malaysia,” he said.
Strengthen Pakatan Youth wings
Kamaruddin Sidek, a delegate from Malacca, said the youth wings of PR parties at times appeared to be in competition with each other.
He proposed a PR Youth convention, similar to the Barisan Nasional Youth convention, for the youth wings of PAS, DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.
He said PAS Youth should also play a more leading role in PR by acting as a pressure group.
“PAS Youth must become a pressure group whether for the leaders of the party, or for other parties in Pakatan Rakyat and in Pakatan-led state governments.
He said PAS Youth had to move beyond holding ceramah and demonstrations to playing an active role in speaking out within PR.
Kamaruddin said for PAS Youth to play this role, no distinction should be made between ulama, professionals and activists as all were needed to help the party.
PAS and Perak
On Perak, Johor’s Abdul Hamid took the PAS leadership to task for failing to act quickly at the start of the crisis, when the three PR assemblypersons announced that they were leaving their parties.
Abdul Hamid said it took about a week before PAS leaders met to discuss the issue and decide on a course of action. He said the crisis shouldn’t have been left to embattled Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and other Perak PR leaders to handle alone.
Perak delegate Mohd Nazri Din said PAS leaders should not contradict one another over certain campaigns or activities, such as the recent hunger strike to call for the dissolution of the state assembly.
“Nizar went on hunger strike but some PAS leaders were reported in the newspapers saying that hunger strikes are haram in Islam. This should not be, you should not contradict another colleague,” he said.
He also said PAS leaders should not be giving interviews to Bahasa Malaysia daily Utusan Malaysia since there was an unofficial boycott of the newspaper by PR.
The Perak Youth delegation to the muktamar today were dressed in black with arm-bands that read “Bubar DUN” (dissolve the state legislative assembly). Perak PAS chief Salman Saleh said the state youth were on a campaign to wear black every Saturday until fresh elections were called in the state.
PAS ulama move to assert leadership