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‘Dominant ulamas’ in PAS polls will set party back 40 years

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 ― PAS's progressive faction will likely be wiped out in the party's
upcoming elections in June, leaving the ulama wing more dominant than ever, according to PAS presidential nominee Ahmad Awang.

The former PAS vice-president, who said his observation was based on the nominations received from PAS divisions nationwide, warned that the Islamist party would lose 40 years of progress if the ulama wing were to regain total dominance.

“Based on the current nominations from president to deputy, to vice-presidents and central committee members, 90 per cent are those from the ulama faction.

“If this is the reality, then PAS will regress, the party will set itself back to where it was 40 years ago,” Ahmad told Malay Mail Online during a phone interview on Monday.

Ahmad, an ulama himself and a one-time Perak PAS commissioner, said that the party needed to have a healthy mix of leaders from different backgrounds and should not be led entirely by those with religious credentials.

The 79-year old stressed that PAS risked undoing the progress it had made with the non-Muslims prior to the last general election, specifically with the formation of the Islamist party's non-Muslim wing ― PAS Supporters' Congress (DHPP).

“Before this, PAS only had imams and ustads. Ten, fifteen years ago professionals joined PAS on the principle of upholding justice.

“But after this progress, and judging by the trend of what will happen in the election, these professionals will be taken out. And PAS will be like what it was 40 years ago,” Ahmad added.

But the PAS veteran was doubtful that the party's splinter group Persatuan Ummah Sejahtera Malaysia (PasMa) would have any success as a separate political party and that any attempts to do so would only be “temporary.”

“For 65 years PAS has fought for Islam. Yes our internal leadership needs fixing but movements (like PasMa) will not benefit the party.

“PasMa will be a splinter group which will attract voices of discontent but it will not go far,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad has received three nominations, qualifying him to contest the PAS presidency against Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in the June party polls.

An individual needs a minimum of two nominations before he or she is eligible to contest for any position in PAS.

As at Monday, Abdul Hadi was leading the presidential race with 80 nominations, followed by Datuk Husam Musa with seven and Ahmad with three nominations. PAS has a total of 191 divisions nationwide.

Nominations reportedly closed on Tuesday.

The party will hold its internal polls during its 61st muktamar to be held in Kuala Selangor from June 3 to 6.

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