IT’S official. PAS is firmly and strongly under the control of Abdul Hadi Awang.
Not only was Hadi returned unopposed as the party president, candidates aligned to him, including his son, snared the highest number of nominations for the vice-presidents and Youth leadership positions.
Party insiders and analysts say the victory will strengthen Hadi’s position to set the direction of the party at its annual assembly in Alor Star this month, which means a more puritanical streak that is against anything remotely liberal or moderate.
It also strengthens the hand of those in the Islamist party who want to work with Umno in the next elections.
Any hope of PKR or Bersatu to seek alliances with the Islamist party in the next general election is as good as gone with Hadi’s victory. For him, any party working with DAP and even Anwar Ibrahim or Dr Mahathir Mohamad is an enemy.
No two ways about it. Hadi’s private member’s bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act or RUU355 that was tabled in Parliament with the tacit approval of Umno has shown where his future alliances lie.
Tabling the bill and getting time to explain it was good enough for Hadi to show his party that he has enough influence to get things going. Especially when there was no debate allowed or the bill has yet to be passed.
It was just enough to keep his post unopposed. It was just enough to take a firm grip of the party and take it wherever he wants to go. It was just enough for his allies to come in and support his leadership.
It was just enough to make sure there will not be any pacts with Pakatan Harapan, and break the notion of straight fights that has cost Umno and its Barisan Nasional its parliamentary super-majority and popular votes.
Hadi’s victory has also completed BN’s objective of breaking up the opposition, which has long relied on PAS grassroots to reach out to voters in the Malay heartland.
Now, parties like PKR, Amanah and Bersatu have to take up the slack at a time when Muslims are told that efforts to enhance shariah laws are being blocked by the DAP and its allies.
PAS and Umno can now campaign freely and together to say a vote for them is a vote for Islam and anyone opposed to their efforts to enhance the shariah court system is an Islamophobe.
If anything else, it is a full circle for Hadi, as his latest victory echoes his famous Amanat Hadi or Hadi’s Edict in 1981 when he said he opposed those who would perpetuate colonial laws and anyone who separated politics from religion was an infidel.