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  • Analysis
  • Monday, 30 May 2011

Campaigning for posts is still frowned upon in PAS but no one dares say a word about Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s open campaign for the candidates from Kelantan as well as the Erdogan group in the party.

THERE are four more days to go before PAS members gather to elect their new party line-up.

Yet, there is hardly any sign of campaigning in the party.

Datuk Nik Amar Nik Abdullah, a candidate vying for the vice-president (VP) post, was resting at home after lunch when contacted on Sunday.

“I haven’t called a single person to ask for support. It’s not my way.

“But some of my friends said they would help me,” he said.

Another VP candidate Datuk Husam Musa has been away in China and India to look at the hou­sing system and health services there the last one week.

When contacted yesterday, he was still in Hyderabad, having nasi briyani and mangoes.

Both candidates are assemblymen from Kelantan and state exco members.

Although they have not done any campaigning, their “boss” Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat has made a direct pitch for them.

The Kelantan Mentri Besar had told a top-selling Malay tabloid that it is crucial that there are candidates who can bring what he called the “Kelantan experience” to the national level.

PAS does not condone open campaigning, but no one would dare tell this powerful ulama what to or not to do.

Nik Aziz is determined that Kelantan is not left out of the top party hierarchy this time.

The last party polls had seen the Kelantan side wiped out from the top leadership.

Incidentally, both Nik Amar and Husam claimed they have neither sought the blessings of Nik Aziz before going for the posts, nor have they spoken to him since.

Husam’s excuse is that he has not had the chance to speak to Nik Aziz, while Nik Amar claimed the Mentri Besar has been away in Kuala Lumpur since last Friday, where he will reportedly stay put until the muktamar is over.

Sounds unusual? Apparently it is quite normal in PAS politics.

However, Nik Aziz’s endorsement for the Kelantan pair has made the other VP candidates rather nervous about their prospects and some of them think it is quite unfair of him to campaign this way.

Last weekend, he took his campaign to another level.

At a ceramah in Gombak, Nik Aziz made his most direct defence of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in connection to the sex video.

He demanded that those who have accused Anwar of being the man in the sex video seek forgiveness from Anwar if they wished to enter heaven.

He said that Anwar was not made of wood and had been shamed.

His remarks, coming just a week before the party polls, was immediately read as a campaign bid for the Erdogans in the party – the group seen as staunch allies of Anwar.

Moreover, the leading Erdogan in PAS, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, was there beside Nik Aziz at the ceramah that night.

Dr Dzulkefly does not have the grassroots reach, but he is a formidable intellectual who has Nik Aziz’s ear.

The Erdogans are very involved – some say too involved – in the politics of Anwar.

They want to bring PAS away from its conservative, ulama-do­minated politics into the real world.

They are for working with DAP and they need Anwar to be around to provide the glue between PAS and DAP.

Anwar’s political survival has become part of their own survival and they have been concerted in condemning the sex video.

There are a number of Erdogans vying for the vice-presidency as well as for posts in the central committee.

Among those going for the three vice-president’s posts are incumbents Salahuddin Ayob and Datuk Mahfuz Omar, former Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin and, of course, Husam.

The Erdogans were riding high until the last party elections when only about four of them survived with seats in the central committee.

Nik Aziz is one of the few ulama who are backing the Erdogans.

It is unclear as yet if the Erdogans are about to make a comeback or if the conservatives, who include some very influential ulama and who are critical of Anwar, will maintain their stranglehold over the party.

Nik Aziz often comes across as frail and sickly.

Party people say he is always in and out of the Kubang Kerian Hospital and there are days when he has to work at home.

But the amazing thing about him is that he somehow manages to rise from his sick bed at crucial moments and the run-up to the party polls has found him looking quite well and sprightly.

The talk is that he also had a hand in Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man’s decision to contest the No 2 post.

Tuan Ibrahim is his anak saudara (nephew), but Nik Aziz has been rather coy about whether he is backing Tuan Ibrahim as the next Number Two.

But he is definitely not backing Nasharudin Mat Isa, the other ulama candidate for the No 2 post.

Nasharudin, who is Bachok MP in Kelantan, is said to be looking for a Selangor seat in the next general election because he is unsure of continued ‘hospitality’ in Kelantan PAS.

The last party polls was a sort of slap in the face for Nik Aziz when his golden boy Husam lost to Nasharudin in the deputy president’s contest.

Nik Aziz had campaigned openly for Husam back then.

He is sticking his neck out again for Husam and Nik Amar.

Will the party delegates listen to him this time or will they go their own way?

The answer will only be known by this weekend.

But what is crystal clear is that Nik Aziz believes that politics cannot be left entirely to the Almighty to determine and he has no qualms about tweaking the political process now and then.

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