The result of PAS election on Nov 22 will determine whether the party will leave the opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and work together with Barisan Nasional (BN) under a unity government.
This if the fundamentalists win but if liberals win, then the party will remain in PR and will probably play second fiddle to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and DAP.
The clear battle lines and the long term impact from the result of whichever faction wins, according to some party insiders, will create a new political landscape in Malay politics that will affect Umno and the Malays.
They said the reason why PAS information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man opted out of the deputy president race and contest on of the three vice-president posts was due to the higher probability of winning.
The battle line is deeper than what is seen on the surface given the party’s future political path depends on which faction wins.
The fundamentalists, according for some party members wanted PAS to remain an Islamist party with its prime objective of setting up an Islamic state and implement the Hudud with non-Muslims as associate members, meaning support the party’s Islamic struggles.
The liberals, they said are more interested in becoming the government as fast as possible with the party’s objectives becoming a second priority, meaning they would work with anybody party that they assure them of victory in future the general elections.
Given the clear line of each faction’s priority, the fundamentalist has put up Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah against incumbent Mohamad Sabu or Mat Sabu for deputy president.
“Earlier Tuan Ibrahim had also wanted to contest the deputy president but the fundamentalists advised him to go for vice-president since Datuk Amar seems to stand a better chance against Mat Sabu.
“For vice-president, Tuan Ibrahim is seen as an acceptable candidate for delegates given his wide exposure as the party information chief where he has been meeting party grassroots for the past several years all over the country,” said one of the party members.
Among the three incumbent vice-presidents, they said Sallehuddin Ayub is the most vulnerable since he had lost two seats in the general election when he contested the Pulai Parliamentary seat and Nusajaya state seat in Johor.
“The other two – Datuk Husam Musa and Datuk Mahfuz Omar – won Salor state seat in Kelantan and Pokok Sena Parliament seat in Kedah respectively.
“Thus, the fundamentalists may see the party future path not derailed as Mohd Amar is considered a better candidate than Mat Sabu by the grassroots for deputy president plus one fundamentalist among the three vice-presidents,” said one of them.
Issues involved in the campaign mainly centre on economic development in Kelantan, PAS held state where a unity government with BN would see the state developed and flourished and the pact in PR.
“This two issues see a real split in thoughts between the two factions and the outcome of the party election will see whether the party will stay in PR or work with BN,” said another party insider.