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24 Nov 2008

Pas begins to axe 'Erdogan' faction

Pas begins to axe 'Erdogan' faction


THE cleansing of the "pro-Anwar" group in Pas, popularly known as the Erdogan faction, has started.

It was no surprise when Selangor Pas took the lead on Friday, removing two popular leaders -- Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad and Hulu Kelang state assemblyman Saari Sungip -- from its main committee line-up.

A division leader who attended the liaison committee meeting at the Selangor Pas office in Shah Alam claims that the decision was unanimous as members felt that Selangor Pas chief Datuk Dr Hassan Mohd Ali should have people with whom he can work in the committee.

The removal of the duo was made after a lengthy discussion at the state Pas' Dewan Harian, or management committee meeting, that was held before the liaison committee met.

Both Khalid and Saari said they had expected to be axed.

Party insiders had warned that it was a matter of time before more casualties emerge in its leadership line-up as tension has been building since the general election in March between the Erdogans, a reference to Turkey's liberal Muslim president Recep Tayyip Erdogan used to label the younger moderates led by vice-president Husam Musa, and the pragmatic ulama-backed group.

There was even talk about casualties among the national leaders holding appointed positions before the party elections, scheduled some time in the middle of next year.

A party official says there were already proposals for the leadership to remove Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkifly Ahmad as director of the party's think-tank.

The split between the warring factions, centred on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's obsession to become prime minister, has led to speculation of imminent contests for senior posts in the coming party elections. The most commonly bandied about is that Husam will take on Nasharuddin Mat Isa for the deputy president's post.

The undercurrent has remained strong even after the party's August muktamar (general assembly) in Ipoh endorsed Pas' commitment to remain in Pakatan Rakyat following heated debates at both the youth and main assemblies.

The last time the fracture emerged was over Anwar's claim -- which has since proven to be a bluff -- of forming a new government by Sept 16.

Terengganu Pas commissioner Datuk Mustaffa Ali landed in hot soup when he reasoned in an article published in Harakah, the Pas organ, why Anwar would not be able to meet the Sept 16 deadline.

He was summoned by the party spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Nik Mat, who strongly backed Husam and his colleagues in their support towards realising Anwar's dream to become prime minister.

Pas insiders, however, fear that the internal conflict could have an impact on the Islamist party's future in Pakatan Rakyat, especially with Anwar's continued inability to deliver on his promise to oust Barisan Nasional from the Federal Government.

Khalid, who won praises from the non-Muslims over his "very open" approach in engaging them, was removed as Deputy Commissioner II and replaced by Hulu Langat MP Dr Che Rosli Che Mat.

His famous visit to the Catholic Church of the Divine Mercy in his constituency, which had endured a long struggle with the BN state government before it was allowed to be built, had an enormous impact on Malaysia's Christian community.

He has also been critical of BN's handling of issues involving the Indian community.

Kelana Jaya division chief Roslan Shahir Mohd Sharir, who is also the press secretary to Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, has taken over as information chief from Saari.

Now, will this new development upset Pas' attempts to reach beyond the Malay/Muslim community?

Yes, there was overwhelming support from Chinese and Indian voters in the last general election that saw an unprecedented push for Pas in the west coast of the peninsula and the growth of Pas non-Muslim supporters' clubs, but many non-Muslims still have a distrust of Pas.

They are not convinced that Pas is committed to its "Pas For All" slogan, simply because Pas leaders have been issuing controversial statements and acting against what the party has been preaching to the non-Muslims.

Pas' electoral victory in March had given the party a multiracial image but this and the openness of the "Erdogans" are being met with resistance from the conservatives within the party.

The roles played by the "Terengganu group", widely perceived as being led by Hadi and Mustaffa and supported by the younger ulama to clean the party of the likes of Khalid, may see Pas curling back into its hardline cocoon again.

sumber - NST

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