[Update] The new, moderate PAS whom, prior to this, referred to themselves as GHB, has now officially become a party by the name of Parti Amanah Negara.
So you may or may not have heard that Pakatan Rakyat is more or less gone la (because no one seems to be very interested in it). With GE14 coming up in the next few years, will Pakatan even stand a chance at winning?
In one of our previous articles, we discussed how Pakatan Rakyat was on the verge of breaking up. We also discussed that the issues surrounding Pakatan stemmed from its president, Dato’ Seri Haji Abdul Hadi Awang and that its party elections in June would determine if Pakatan stayed or not.
Well that election came to err…pass (pun semi-intended) and though PAS did not officially leave Pakatan (in fact, they say Pakatan still ons), both DAP and PKR leaders have declared Pakatan to be gone la.
But that’s not all that has transpired from it. The PAS elections was actually a battle between two factions:-
- The ulama faction: headed by current PAS President Dato’ Seri Haji Abdul Hadi Awang
- The progresif faction: led by Ahmad Awang (contested for president) and Mohamad Sabu, also known as Mat Sabu.
We’ll very quickly explain them. The ulama faction comprises mostly of erm…ulama which means something like religious scholar. Usually categorised by their long robes and white hats. The progresif faction on the other hand, had a higher composition of professionals.
But that doesn’t mean that these two are mutually exclusive. Mat Sabu of the progressive faction was deputy president to Abdul Hadi Awang of the ulama faction prior to this recent party elections.
In the end, basically the ulama faction won la. In fact, they won big time (you can view the results with pictures here).
But what about the progresif faction? Well guess what, they’re starting a new party…..!
This movement (they’re in the process of being approved as a political party, thus movement), is known as Gerakan Harapan Baru or GHB for short (sadly, this is also an abbrevation for a date rape drug, so if you’re reading this, members of Gerakan Harapan Baru, would you consider tweaking your name slightly?).
Some of you (whom we know don’t share our enthusiasm) are already going like “Aiya, lose di then wan start own party lorrr,” or “Aiyohhh, another political party?” True also la. These group of former PAS leaders, who lost the party elections, nowhere else to go, decide to form new party.
But maybe, just maybe, this party can revive Pakatan Rakyat and give them hope in the coming general elections. Just….maybe. In fact, here are 3 reasons why they could.
1. They are willing to work towards a new Pakatan
During the PAS elections, the progresif faction of PAS was known to be in favour of keeping Pakatan intact. Their presidential candidate, Ahmad Awang, stated that in multiracial Malaysia, PAS can’t win seats on their own.
“If we are not in Pakatan, where will PAS go?” – Ahmad Awang, as quoted by The Malay Mail Online.
That differed greatly from the ulama faction whose Spiritual Leader was reported as saying that their pursuit of hudud was more important than Pakatan. And we know that the progressives lost and Pakatan did break up.
But even if they were down, it didn’t mean that they were out. They grouped together and started a group calling themselves the G18 (later GHB). And after it was pretty much over for Pakatan, the progressives wasted no time in meeting up with leaders from PKR and DAP.
All this has led to speculation that a new Pakatan is on the way!
2. They are open to non-Muslims voting in their party elections
So PAS actually has a non-Muslim group of supporters called the Dewan Himpunan Pemimpin PAS (DHPP).
While they are recognised as being part of PAS, they do not have the full rights of a regular member. Why? Well because you need to be a Muslim to be a member of PAS (amongst other things). And while these members are being considered as potential members to run in the general election, they do not have voting rights in the party’s elections.
That is something that the GHB is considering. To be more inclusive, they are considering giving non-Muslim members full party rights, which includes the right to vote in their party elections. Which is a pretty big deal if you think about it. Because if they go ahead with this, they are basically allowing non-Muslims to have a say in a Muslim party.
“With Gerakan Harapan Baru, every single Malaysian will not be abandoned in this new hope. We will include Muslims, non-Muslims, and ultimately we will emerge as a national party.” – GHB member, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, as quoted by The Malay Mail Online.
That is a big deal where Pakatan is involved. DAP’s problem was that it was always seen as a Chinese party, so they moved to bring in more Malays. PAS’ problem was that it was always seen as an Islamic party. So you see where we’re going with this?
With race-based parties becoming more irrelevant amongst Malaysians, allowing non-Muslims full membership in a Muslim party brings that a step further. It allows the Pakatan Rakyat as a whole, to demonstrate themselves as a coalition not bound by race and religion.
3. They are willing to wait on hudud
We’re gonna have to put this out here la. They are still for hudud. Please, please don’t go bananas just yet. Because they will only pursue hudud on one condition.
Just a couple of days back, their secretary-general Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, spoke to The Malay Mail Online about it. He stated that though hudud has its role to play in society, it cannot be implemented before we have good governance. Meaning if gomen not good then hudud shouldn’t be enforced la.
Their leader, Mat Sabu, also stated that their “Islamic politics will emphasise on integrity and trust in governance and administration.”
“Why focus on something that only a certain category of Malaysians can relate to when there are other issues like the economy, GST (goods and services tax) and healthcare.” – Penang municipal councillor, Syerleena Abdul Rashid, as quoted by The Malaysian Insider.
Oh and they think hudud also needs the support of their allies. Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad said that Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB) wants to convince their allies on how hudud can be beneficial to the country.
“More importantly, I again stress, we will do it through the democratic and legislative means.” – GHB secretary-general, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, as quoted by The Malay Mail Online.
And that is the stance of the progressives, that they couldn’t, and shouldn’t impose their policies on other people.
“We cannot and shall not impose our policies on others, not even on Muslims, much less on non-Muslims, just because it is God’s law, without giving due regard to the legal and social context of Malaysia.” – partial quote from GHB secretary-general, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, taken from The Malaysian Insider.
Can they really revive Pakatan? Time will tell
As of now, the only success we’ve been hearing about them is that they have successfully annoyed their former party, PAS. We’re gonna list down some of the responses from PAS towards the GHB.
- PAS’ current Deputy President has said they add nothing to the political scene and warned members about joining them.
- A veteran PAS leader called them representatives of DAP.
- PAS President, Abdul Hadi Awang said the party got no hope and will only last 2 years.
- PAS Selangor has already sacked several members for joining GHB.
In fact, their leader Mat Sabu, is preparing himself to be sacked by PAS.
But at least for now, the GHB seems intent being the PAS that PAS failed to be. They really do seem intent on building those bridges with DAP and PKR once again. But once again, all we can do is wait and see. But if all else fails, and you don’t think PAS and Pakatan will ever be the same again, don’t worry. Still got other party available.
But what do you think? Is this party really that different from PAS? Let us know either in the poll or comments below.