Saturday, June 20, 2009



The moon is split. It’s the clout of aging what’s hit the party, not the suggested Unity Government which is a non-issue, the tantrum this time going so far as to tell the deputy president, Nasharuddin Mat Isa, to resign as MP of Bachok, Kelantan, and get lost from Pas altogether, a wounding that will be hard to plaster.

Nasharuddin is from Negeri Sembilan and therefore a guest of Nik Aziz, 78, the Kelantan Pas chief and Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) who is also the murshidul am (spiritual leader) of the party.

The irascible stoical savant insists he is the captain of the ship and wants Nasharuddin cast overboard, opening a way for mutiny.

Will the ship sink this time? Or is the event only a splitting of the moon deliberately designed to issue an anticipated conflict to remove the distressing distortion of the power hierarchy in Pas?

For how can the party continue if there’s a sustained usurpation of the president’s power and authority?

The party has an elected president and a murshidul am or spiritual guide who is chosen by the Dewan Ulama (Council of Scholars) from an elected group of 15.

He can only be removed by two-thirds of his peers in the Council and therefore, can be a scary figure of power should he also become a state leader and chief executive like Nik Aziz Nik Mat in Kelantan.

Complaints about Nik Aziz performing against the party’s resolutions had consistently surfaced from months after he became Menteri Besar in 1990.

The difficulties arose from the personality, the positions he held and the poorly defined role and authority of the murshidul am – reasons enough to cause gaping holes to appear in the ship’s belly.

Then there’s the fact that Kelantan, which has been the host and fortress of Pas all through the party’s history, is losing the special status and privileges.

Pas, after the sudden surge into national stature in 1999, is now standing with more than one million members from about 60,000 before 1999. That expansion can only be described as an explosion.

While from the early days the party had rooted in Kelantan and expanded merely to the predominantly Malay states of the peninsular, the Pas has now become national and is only requiring to seed in Sabah to contest Umno as a whole.

Temper, personality and character of the leadership must change to accept the new membership profile which has outgrown the old rural and religious-school restrictions.

Pas now embraces an impressive stack of scholars, professional and technocrats.

Resulting from Nik Aziz’s remarkable outburst is a certain gloom. While he is widely respected as a party elder and as a symbol of Islamic stoicism (zuhud), the man is ledged in the patriarchal splendor only because of his appeal to moribund values.

The times have changed. So has the country that has long outgrown the rural dominance and is now having to deal with living in sprawling metropolises revealing hysterics of the industrial society that are unknown in all of Islamic history.

Nik Aziz Nik Mat is still seriously encased in his rural habits and he must reevaluate his own effectiveness, especially in trying to secure for Kelantan her special status as a state that’s central in Pas.

Kelantan cannot remain the center of gravity if Pas is to expand and contest Umno nationally.

For weeks after the 55th Pas general assembly (muktamar) whence the president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, had delivered an inspiring policy speech, the murshidul am simply derailed the whole of the speech by publicly stomping the party president, the deputy president and the secretary-general.

The “Captain’s” anchorman and oarsmen had lost in the recent party elections. Nik Aziz must be feeling that his days too are numbered.

For him there’s no escape. He must immediately prepare for his retirement if the Pas is to remain a credible alternative to Umno or as an effective partner in a Unity Government.

Hadi’s idea of the Unity Government was only a suggested means to overcome the political distresses that had arisen from the 8 March 2008 general elections.

It is no more than a loose suggestion many regard as a good idea. ----a. ghani ismail, 20 June, 2009

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