Posted: 24 Sep 2013 12:03 PM PDT
(TMI) - Despite a widening appeal among Malaysians, Muslim scholars want to keep their conservative grip in PAS and their dream of an Islamic state alive by putting up their most hardline candidates in the party polls this year.
The PAS ulama (scholars) want staunch conservatives to continue leading the party rather than progressives and liberals, dubbed "Erdogans" after the popular Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Malaysian Insider understands the ulama will only name one candidate for the key party deputy presidency now held by the popular Mohamed Sabu (pic). Last time out, he won when two clerics, Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and Nasharuddin Mat Isa, contested and split the votes.
Mohamed received 420 votes against Tuan Ibrahim's 399 and former deputy president Nasharuddin who only took 224 votes. Ulama candidates were also defeated in the race for the party vice-presidencies in that election, throwing a spanner in their plans for an Islamic state, said political analyst Mohd Sayuti Omar.
Smarting from their previous defeat, the PAS ulama have started their campaign by keeping a close watch on the nominations from the branches to ensure only the strongest candidates get through.
Kelantan deputy Menteri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah appears to be the current favourite, with Tuan Ibrahim close behind, for the deputy president's post.
"The nominations will determine who will be the choice of the ulama wing. The ulama with the least nominations will be dissuaded from contesting. A single candidate will not split the vote," said Mohd Sayuti.
Professor Dr Jayum Jawan from Universiti Putra Malaysia also said that it was no surprise that PAS clerics are trying to reassert their hold over the party.
"The party is trying to bring back their original struggle to implement Islamic policies. PAS knows that this is the way to go to acquire their base support in strengthening the Islamic party," he said.
The party also needs to reinforce its credentials in its traditional east coast base, he said, noting, "They need to strengthen their northern base in Kelantan with the hope to re-take Terengganu."
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