Looking for clues in PAS veep race

  • Analysis
  • Thursday, 27 Apr 2017

Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah

FOR several years, PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang was not keen on moves in the party for his eldest son to rise up the ranks or to contest in the general election.

But the famous family name carries a strong appeal and Khalil Hadi will be proclaimed the new Youth chief when the Dewan Pemuda muktamar convenes on Thursday.

Khalil won unopposed in what has been a subdued, even boring, party election compared to the fight in 2015.

His father has kept a discreet silence so far. Hadi is probably aware of the awkwardness of the whole thing because it is rare for a party to have a father as the president and the son as the Youth chief.

It is also known as nepotism but supporters of Khalil insist that he got there through the democratic process.

"There was overwhelming support for him, it was determined by the Dewan Pemuda division meetings all over the country. He would have won even if there was a contest," said PAS communications di­­rector Roslan Shahir.

The wing's deputy chief and vice-chief posts were also won unopposed by engineer Khairil Nizam Khirudin and Ahmad Fadhli Shaari who is an ulama.

The wing is keen to send the signal that the party has support from religious scholars and professionals.

Outgoing Youth chief Nik Abduh Nik Aziz was what some described as a "phototostat copy" of his late father, but Khalil looks nothing like Hadi.

He is rather soft spoken, fair-skinned, with none of Hadi's fierce, rugged looks. Even their speaking styles are different but Khalil has inherited his father's intellect.

He is well-educated and is invited to give religious lectures all over.

He also has a regular slot to lecture in the Rusila mosque and that says something.

Nik Abduh has not quite measured up to expectations and there is now pressure on Khalil to show that he is more than just another famous son and that he deserves to be up there.

Khalil is no political animal and it will be left to his deputy and vice-chiefs to carry out the attacks against their political opponents.

But the one to watch is vice-chief Ahmad Fadhli who is also Kelantan Youth chief.

He is credited with helping the party lead the state Youth wing away from the control of former PAS leader Datuk Husam Musa who has since joined Amanah.

Ahmad Fadhli is also known for his pro-active style. When TV3 highlighted the plight of villages during the great flood a few years ago, he went down to those areas to sort out the villagers' problems.

Then he urged TV3 to do a follow-up report. Not many PAS leaders have that kind of energy or savvy.

Although boring and uneventful, the great thing about the PAS election is that it is clean, there is no money politics.

Candidates do not have to throw dinners or even do much campaigning.

With the Dewan Pemuda leadership settled, the party election focus will now be on the vice-presidents contest.

The three incumbent vice-presidents, Idris Ahmad, Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah and Datuk Iskandar Samad, are joined by Nasrudin Hassan, the Temerloh MP who became famous for his vocal opposition to celebrating Valentine's Day.

Will delegates vote for a status quo or will Nasrudin cause an up­­set?

The conventional wisdom is that Iskandar, seen as the weak link, may lose.

He is a Selangor state exco member and some of his views have not gone down well with the party.

He is seen as being too defensive of PKR at a time when the mood is to sever ties with the former partner.

At the same time, Iskandar, an engineer, is the only non-ulama among the incumbents and there will be delegates who want to see some balance in the top leadership line-up.

Mohd Amar is expected to hold his own. The Kelantan deputy mentri besar has emerged as a credible voice in that state in the last few years, as well as being a popular figure on the ceramah circuit who says sensible things and shows a boldness to his thinking.

That means Idris, known as a firebrand, could be in danger even though he is Bukit Gantang MP and active in party work.

Nasrudin, for reasons of his own, is going for broke because he has rejected nominations for a central committee post.

If Nasrudin wins, it means the party will be dominated by religious scholars from the president down to the vice-presidents.

It will not be good for the image of the party and, besides, everyone knows that the ulama cohort are good at religion and preaching but hopeless at organising or political activity.

If Iskandar loses, it could also be a signal of the delegates' desire to break up with PKR.

However, if he wins, could it be a hint that the delegates are open to continuing what they enjoy in Selangor?

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