A delegation of Buddhist monks turned up for the Kelantan government’s Hari Raya open house on Sunday in their bright saffron robes.

The monks have had a great relationship with the PAS government since the days when the late Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat was the Mentri Besar.

They attracted quite a bit of attention and one PAS official had commented: “This orange, we accept.”

It was a veiled reference to Amanah whose signature colour is orange and which is now the No 1 enemy of PAS.

The Hari Raya open houses of political parties in Kelantan this year have been highly political with a general election on the horizon.

Amanah also held its national open house in Kota Baru in what was seen as a signal of its intention to replace PAS as the state government.

“We believe we have a chance to win the state so our top leaders came to give us a boost,” said Kelantan Amanah chairman Datuk Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah.

All the Amanah top brass were present, including mursyidul am Ahmad Awang, president Mohamad Sabu and deputy president Salahuddin Ayub.

Unfortunately, they were upstaged by their VIP guest Lim Kit Siang who dropped a bombshell by declaring Amanah vice-president Datuk Husam Musa as the next Mentri Besar of Kelantan.

The DAP leader said the wind of change was blowing strongly in the country, including Kelantan, and he hoped to see a new federal government and state government in Kelantan by the next Hari Raya.

His proposal drew applause from those present but there has since been an awkward silence on the part of Amanah.

Lim had apparently committed a faux pas.


Husam used to be a rising star in PAS but his political career has nose-dived. Everyone in Kelantan knows that he is persona non grata with the palace.

The prospect of Husam becoming the next Mentri Besar is almost as tricky as making Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim the next Prime Minister.

Husam’s problems with the Kelantan royal house are so serious that the palace is said to have rejected him as a state exco member after the last general election.

“Husam has many loyal supporters in Salor (where he is the assemblyman) but to become the MB, you need the blessings of the Istana,” said a top state government official.

Endorsement from Lim is something that a Malay leader in Kelantan could do without. DAP does not have a good reputation in Kelantan for pushing PAS out of Pakatan Rakyat and for opposing the hudud law that PAS wants to implement in the state.

Lim’s action also reinforced the perception that DAP is the one pushing the buttons in Pakatan.

“What Kit Siang said was his own idea. He is entitled to say what he thinks, this is a free country. But Amanah has not discussed or decided on the MB candidate yet. Let us win first, then we submit a name to the Sultan,” said Wan Abdul Rahim.

Moreover, the candidate that Amanah is eyeing for Mentri Besar is Nik Aziz’s eldest son Nik Omar, who is known to be close to Husam.

Nik Omar is regarded by some as the true successor of his father’s thinking and aspiration. He is staunchly anti-Umno, unlike his younger brother Nik Abduh who subscribes to the idea of Malay unity.

Lim was in the midst of some sort of Malay heartland tour through Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan when he attended the Amanah Hari Raya do.

He had stopped at Raub, which was won by DAP, as well as Kuala Terengganu, Kuala Krai and Gua Musang.

It is not known what kind of feedback he gathered from those places but he seems to have misread the Kelantan pulse.

According to Kelantanese film-maker Syed Azidi Syed Aziz, DAP’s message was probably aimed at those working and living outside of Kelantan and who had balik kampung for Hari Raya.

“He probably thinks Husam will appeal to this group of voters,” said Syed Azidi who was Husam’s former officer.


Wan Abdul Rahim said there was zero chance of Amanah cooperating with PAS in the polls.

“Don’t blame us. It is them (PAS) who do not want anything to do with us,” he said.

The animosity runs deep. PAS has started holding prayer gatherings to “Save Kelantan” while a PAS leader told a gathering that PAS was prepared to lose in the general election rather than cooperate with Amanah.

PAS has deep-seated roots in Kelantan after 27 years as the ruling party. An entire generation of Kelantanese has grown up knowing only PAS as the government and the party controls the mosque, surau and village committees.

Umno, on its part, has the federal might and a big war chest. Any party which aims to take over Kelantan has to be able to take on these two big boys.

Amanah, said Syed Azidi, is largely seen as a parti kacau daun, that is, a party that rustles the trees or what is known as a spoiler.

In the event of a three-cornered fight, Amanah will most likely cannibalise the PAS votes and Umno could end up the winner.

Lim’s dream of spending the next Hari Raya with Husam as the Mentri Besar is likely to remain a dream.