PETALING JAYA: Former Selangor executive council member Hasan Ali was not always a supporter of the ulamas but, on the contrary, was one of the pioneer liberals in PAS, said his former aide Abdul Rahman Talib.
In an interview with FMT, Rahman, who also operates a blog under the monicker Tulang Besi, said the slogan “PAS for All” was also Hasan’s brainchild.
“In order to understand what happened since then, we need to trace back PAS’ history,” he added.
For decades, Rahman said, there had been a “cold war” between the conservatives and the reformists in PAS but many kept silent during the tenure of late party president, Fadzil Noor.
“The term ulamas versus the Erdogans was coined by Umno. The issue is between the conservatives and the reformists,” he explained.
(The Erdogans are named after popular Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is known for his moderate Islamic politics.)
In 2001, Rahman said Hasan won the top job in PAS Selangor as he was seen as a liberal while the former chief Mohsinsun Tahir was seen as a conservative.
He also revealed another interesting fact about Hasan, saying it was the latter who had mooted the concept of “PAS for All”.
“And the concept was promoted extensively in Selangor using banners and other insignias but received stiff resistance from the conservative faction.
“I know this because I was part of the committee that was promoting this concept. It was going on well until PAS introduced the Islamic state document in 2003,” he said.
‘Ulamas rely too much on rhetoric’
The document, Rahman said, was so badly written that it became instrumental in Barisan Nasional winning its biggest electoral mandate in the history of the nation.
“About 80% of the non-Malay votes went to BN. Umno should have paid PAS for handing the former the electoral victory on a silver platter,” he added in jest.
Among the weaknesses in the document, Rahman said, was that it did not provide details on many issues such as Islamic governance and the status of non-Muslims in a theocratic state.
“When we talk about Islamic state, we must address issues such as how the ministries would function, human rights, women’s rights and so on. Ask the conservatives these questions and you would see them falter one by one,” he added.
The problem with the conservatives, Rahman said, was that they relied too much on rhetoric for the past 20 years.
“During party polls, they would refer to themselves as ulamas to fish for votes. They would say that ulamas must retain control of the party leadership at all times. Truth be told, Islam says a leader must be qualified for the job. And a qualified leader need not necessarily be religious,” he said.
Throwing brickbats at the conservatives, Rahman said the faction had failed to grasp the political realities of Malaysia, which was plural in its racial and religious backgrounds.
“Many of them were educated in the Middle East of the past, where tyrants ruled. The despots there don’t care about their people even when the latter were living on the streets. So the conservatives are not attuned to how a democracy works. In the Middle East then, corruption was the rule of the day but the media there whitewashed it.That’s also the reason why the conservatives in PAS don’t see corruption as a problem,” he added.
On Harun Taib, the PAS ulama council chief who spearheaded the Islamic state document, Rahman claimed that Harun knew nothing about the aspirations of non-Malays.
“He spends most of his time in Manir, Terengganu, with a large Malay population. He doesn’t know the issues plaguing the Chinese and Indian communities,” said Rahman, who hails from Petaling Jaya.
Back to Hasan, Rahman said that the former Selangor PAS chief often criticised the conservatives for accusing the reformists of being secularists.
“Hasan even slammed the conservatives in the 2007 party annual general meeting. Subsequently, he resigned from his vice presidency but retained his Selangor PAS chief post.
“It’s all nonsense. The reformists were not secularists but were merely putting substance into the rhetoric PAS was dishing out for 20 years,” he added.
‘Umno fears the likes of Husam’
Citing the example of current party vice-president Husam Musa, Rahman said that Husam did not dabble in rhetoric and was a man of action.
“That’s why Husam, despite resistance from the conservatives, implemented various pro-people policies in Kelantan in the aftermath of the party’s drubbing in the 2004 general election,” he added.
As for Umno, Rahman said, the party feared PAS leaders such as Husam and PAS central working committee members Dzulkefly Ahmad and Khalid Samad.
“The reformists are on their way to turn PAS into a wholesome Malaysian party. If that happens, Umno will be ruined,” he added.
The sentiments against the conservatives were so strong among PAS delegates that in 2007, they voted Nasharuddin Mat Isa as the deputy president in place of Harun Taib.
“After 2007, the conservatives started losing their influence in the party. That was when PAS started talking to Hindraf and came out with the welfare state plan,” said Rahman.
During that time, Hasan was focused on his work in Selangor and became a leader to be reckoned with.
“Hasan was so strong in Selangor that no PAS members could think of anyone better to lead the Selangor faction,”
Quoted from FMT News, written by G Vinod, March 22, 2012
Well, Dato' Hassan Ali was also the Timbalan Ketua Pengarah Birotatanegara when Brother Anwar Bin Ibrahim was the Deputy Prime Minister. What is Hassan Ali's motive of establishing IMR? Go figure.