ABDUL Razak Ibrahim’s kenduri last weekend in Marang, Terengganu, was as joyous an affair as many others except for one thing – none of his friends from PAS showed up.
From the lowliest branch official to the party’s state committee, none of his former colleagues accepted the invitation despite their close ties.
Razak left PAS to support its splinter party, Parti Amanah Negara, formed in late 2015. His friends in PAS soon cut all ties with him.
And this is one reason behind Amanah’s slow growth. The party has only been able to register 80,000 members, short of the 100,000 it targeted within a year of its formation.
Razak’s friends, even those he made while he was part of a PAS-controlled mosque committee in Terengganu, have abandoned him.
“After I talked it over with my friends and relatives, I realised that my kenduri was boycotted by PAS because I support Amanah,” Razak told The Malaysian Insight.
This occurs in the PAS strongholds of Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah and even other states such as Selangor.
Those who leave PAS for Amanah are shunned and their old friends will not even say “hi” to them on the street. Sometimes they are labelled as “traitors”.
Amanah is part of the Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance. PAS which used to be an ally, has now formed its own Gagasan Sejahtera Rakyat which rivals PH.
Razak is not bothered about the cold-shoulder treatment but he is saddened when he thinks of his former party’s future.
“For me, it contradicts the dakwah concept, which is one the goals of PAS and it sets a bad example to society.
“PAS may be successful in the short term at controlling and scaring its members from joining Amanah but in the long run, it is negative for the party,” he said.
Political analysts see this phenomenon as a repeat of what occurred in the early 1980s when PAS was recovering from huge losses in the 1978 general election.
A 1981 speech by current PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang in Kg Banggol Peradong gave rise to the takfiri culture within PAS where members would label other Muslims as “infidels”.
“At the time, it was Umno members who bore the brunt of the takfiri culture. Now it is Amanah,” said Dr Mazlan Ali, a senior lecturer of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).
Amanah believes that many of its supporters are still in PAS and dare not leave the party for fear of being shunned like Razak.
They are nicknamed “harum manis” after the famed Perlis mangoes, which are green outside (like PAS’ colour) and orange (Amanah’s colour) inside.
At least three of PAS’ lawmakers are known as harum manis. They are assemblymen Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad of Batu Burok in Terengganu and Nasir Mustapha of Kubang Rotan in Kedah.
Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar is another harum manis. All three have been frequently spotted attending Amanah and Pakatan Harapan events.
Terengganu Amanah chief Raja Bahrin Shah said at least 30% of Amanah’s supporters are still in PAS and only 10% to 15% have left to join the splinter party.
Razak believes that only 10% of PAS members in Terengganu will join Amanah and many of its supporters are still quietly in PAS.
But Razak is confident that come the general election, they will vote for Amanah or any other PH party.
“An old classmate of mine at the kenduri is an Amanah supporter. But he is scared of speaking openly about PAS or Amanah.”
Mazlan of UTM said Amanah’s low membership compared with PAS is not big a concern and that it is not the determining factor in an election.
“Today’s political landscape is flat,” he said, citing DAP and MCA’s rivalry as an example.
In the parliamentary seat of Cheras, DAP, which is part of PH, only has a few hundred members, said Mazlan.
In comparison, MCA, a member of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, boasts of branches in every neighbourhood in Cheras.
“But every time there is a general election, DAP beats MCA by huge majorities.”
In fact, DAP has held on to Cheras for the past five general elections since 1995 despite boasting a smaller membership compared with MCA.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT