WHEN the ulama faction in PAS sets its mission to empower the roles of the ulama in the party, it really means business.

The young ulama in the party especially, with the help of professionals who are aligned to the ulama class, had launched a relentless campaign since candidates confirmed their acceptance to nominations by party divisions.

The social media is being utilised to the fullest; face to face campaigning through small group meetings and organised activities had been used as campaign platforms, reaching a stage never seen before in the party in the last decade.

In what is seen as yet another attempt to influence tomorrow’s voting in an internal election where candidates are split into two clear factions – the ulama and professional or progressive groups, PAS’ influential Dewan Ulama or clerics’ wing had officially endorsed a list of its preferred candidates.

The “Cai Tan” or menu for electing the office bearers for the 2015-2017 term that was posted on the Dewan Ulama official Facebook account not long after the acting head of the wing, Datuk Mahfoz Mohamed asked members to reject leaders whose loyalty is not with party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang but Pakatan Rakyat allies, had raised eyebrows.

While “Cai Tan” is important to ensure a working team is voted in, many did not expect the Dewan Ulama to endorse a complete list of line-up and make it public, too.

Likening these pro-Pakatan Rakyat leaders to thorns in the flesh, Mahfoz had called on members with voting power to use tomorrow’s party polls to reject these individuals and vote in those who are supportive of the incumbent party president.

Names of those in the “president’s list” comprise either those who are either ulama or professionals aligned to them and this has been seen as indicative of its intention to wipe out those seen as progressives from the central leadership lineup.

Going by the list, the ulama faction wants delegates to retain Abdul Hadi, who is being challenged for the first time since holding office in 2002 by Ahmad Awang, an ulama supportive of Pakatan Rakyat, for another term; it had endorsed Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man to replace incumbent Mohamad Sabu as deputy president.

The wing also feels that all three incumbent vice-presidents should be replaced and preferred Kelantan Deputy Menteri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, Bukit Gantang Member of Parliament Idris Ahmad and Selangor state executive councillor Datuk Iskandar Abd Samad to take over.

There is nothing wrong in revealing a list of preferred candidates. It is not tantamount to degrading those not in the list nor has it slandered anyone.

The party’s elections director Asmuni Awi confirmed that the issuance of an endorsed list of candidates does not breach regulations.

Other political parties too issued “cais” during their internal elections and such lists had also emerged during past several internal PAS elections, albeit in a more “hush hush” manner.

Delegates usually got separate lists for No 2 and No 3 positions in the party as the presidency has never been challenged for a long time; they usually received only names of candidates for the 18 central committee seats, not the entire list like now.

But “Cai Tan” is also a recipe for disaster; it promotes factionalism and an obstacle to party unity post elections.

And delegates of other political parties too had in the past rejected “Cais” presented to them and chose a new team altogether comprising candidates from warring factions to send a clear message to the warring leaders that they need to co-operate for the party to work and serve its supporters.

Will this happen tomorrow when the 1,000-odd PAS’ delegates go to the ballots?

PAS’ delegates had in the past voted in a mixture of ulama and professionals as the two groups had been complementing each other in making what PAS is today.

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