The fundamentalists hold in PAS is fast slipping away as the liberals who are young and professional have succeeded in offering the party members better ‘deal’ that can pave the way for the party to ‘sit at Putrajaya’.
In the upcoming PAS election, the liberals have positioned themselves strategically at every level of the party hierarchy where the fundamentalists are at the ‘losing end’.
Campaigns for the party poll are free for all which give the liberals more opportunities given their mobility compared to the fundamentalists who stick to their old method of giving religious ceramahs rather than giving out views on the future of the party.
Being professionals and equipped with political knowledge and the knowing aspirations of party members, the liberals clearly have an upper hand in the campaigns which further push the fundamentalists behind in the race.
Sixty-on candidates are vying for the 18 central committee posts where nearly three-quarter are professionals and liberals, those who subscribed to re-branding PAS to a Malay-based Islamic party than the present Islamic-based party.
Given the 1,500-odd delegates this time around comprising nearly half professionals and businessmen, the liberals may spring a surprise with the likely probability that incumbent deputy president Mohamad Sabu or Mat Sabu may retain his seat against fundamentalist Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah.
Similarly, the three incumbent vice-presidents – Datuk Mahfuz Omar, Datuk Husam Musa and Salahuddin Ayub – may just continue their term against fundamentalists Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and Datuk Abu Bakar Chik.
The fundamentalists have had their time in projecting and promoting Islamic concepts such as the setting up of an Islamic state and the implementation of Hudud to fulfill the religious obligations but until present time, the party has yet to get the goals achieved.
Except for holding on the Kelantan state government that saw a decline in influence at the May 5 general election, the fundamentalists ‘authority’ has been challenged by liberals such as Salor assemblyman in Kelantan Husam, who is known to be a very close associate of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Husam’s new approach with PAS director of strategy Dr Zulkifli Ahmad, also known to be Anwar’s close associate and a few others, are now being accepted by party members as their approached seemed practical for the party to ‘move to Putrajaya’.
Forgetting the sensitivities involved in the volatile relationship in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) where the liberals ‘walk the tightrope and survive’ on issues involving Islam, their appearances more elegant and way they talk more convincing especially with their intellectualism.
In fact, the liberals have been actively involved in the party campaigns in two by-elections – Kuala Besut state seat in Terengganu and the recently concluded Sungai Limau state seat in Kedah – had even predicted the outcome of the two nearly correctly.
Except not heavily involved in the campaign strategy as they always ‘respect the fundamentalists way’ and also not to create any animosity among the factions, these liberals have been filing details on the party weaknesses and good points for future references.
In fact, their approach and style are modern and up-to-date which impress the young members more than anything else.
Compared to the fundamentalists who wear the skull cap and most times in sarungs whose talks are mostly on religious laws rather than intellectual reasoning, the faction led by non-other than the party president himself Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang seems to lose credibility and influence among the younger party members.
Given such background, the fundamentalists need more than just religious talks and issues to counter the advance of the liberals come Nov 22 when delegates cast their votes.