Although PAS elections are still a year away, feelers are already on the ground as to who the next president could be, and vice-president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has emerged as an early favourite, according to preliminary findings by independent research firm Ilham Centre.
Provided the Islamist party’s current president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang steps down, Tuan Ibrahim appears to be in the leading choice because there is no one else, including popular vice-president Datuk Husam Musa, who could take on the influential Marang MP in a straight fight, based on feedback received so far from the party grassroots.
Ilham Centre head Mohamad Hisomudin Bakar told The Malaysian Insider that Tuan Ibrahim was an early favourite in initial findings of an ongoing nationwide survey conducted by the research firm among PAS delegates. It has so far completed surveys in Kedah, Perlis and Johor.
He said that delegates still believed Hadi would be retained if the post was contested.
Despite growing disenchantment within the Islamist party, calls for leadership change were unrealistic, Hisomudin said. Not even if deputy president Mohamad Sabu, or Husam, were to challenge Hadi, he added.
“Our checks showed that Hadi’s influence is still strong and he will remain the president. If there are changes, it will be the deputy presidents and vice-presidents.
“Husam, Mat Sabu or Ahmad Awang will not be able to challenge him,” said Hisomuddin.
The centre’s findings come a few months after PAS 60th annual general meeting or muktamar in September, during which the split in the party over Hadi’s combative stance against Pakatan Rakyat partners in the Selangor menteri besar saga was obvious.
However, the muktamar also showed that Hadi’s conservatism still reigned strong within the party as seen from the grassroots’ support for the “leadership by ulama” principle.
Hisomudin said the centre’s surveys have shown that PAS members want the party leadership to remain status quo, with a mix between professionals and ulama.
“Most of them are not agreeable with either group which is extreme in their views, be it from the ulama or professionals.
“They prefer a mix between both groups and if possible, want things to remain as it is,” said Hisomudin.
As for the best person to replace Hadi, most of the delegates surveyed chose Tuan Ibrahim, the vice-president.
Commenting on Ilham Centre’s findings, PAS veteran Datuk Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah said all factions in the party must accept a compromise if they want PAS to move forward.
As for Hadi, he said the party president should accept the reality of a brewing crisis in the party.
“If he can see the current scenario realistically and still loves PAS, I’m sure Datuk Haji Hadi will not accept any other nomination and propose Tuan Ibrahim or someone of similar character to take over his place,” said Wan Rahim, who was formerly Speaker of the Kelantan legislative assembly.
He said the current atmosphere in PAS required all factions to accept compromise and not repeat the history of 1982 when PAS experienced a severe split that almost crippled it.
That year saw the ousting of its president, Datuk Asri Muda, under whose leadership PAS had joined Barisan Nasional for a disastrous stint, and the rise of ulama leadership.
“If accepted, move on. If not, be prepared to face a repeat of 1982 where the party was split into two and took about 30 years to reach where it is now,” said Wan Rahim, who is also the Kota Baru PAS chief.
Wan Rahim is one of many PAS members with personal experience of the split. At that time, he said, PAS members were given two options: side with Asri, the president, or remain with the party.
“In my area, out of 24 committee members, 16 supported the president while eight, including myself, remained with the party,” he said, adding that PAS has had to rebuild itself from the ashes.
Wan Rahim believed that PAS would not be able to weather another split. – December 16, 2014.