PETALING JAYA - The breakaway faction in PAS comprising a total of 14 "Yang Berhormats" is prepared to face expulsion from the party as its members get ready to launch a new movement known as Harapan Baru, or New Hope.
Headed by former PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, they are still PAS members even as they openly oppose the ulama-dominated leadership of PAS and what PAS stands for.
Mat Sabu, as he is better known, introduced the new movement at a press conference yesterday accompanied by former vice-president Salahuddin Ayub, ousted Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat and many PAS politicians who lost in the party elections last month.
The acrimonious polls saw delegates voting only for those endorsed by the ulama group, whereas those in the professional group led by Mat Sabu were completely rejected.
The birth of the new movement signalled that the split in PAS has reached a point of no return.
Mat Sabu confirmed that the group was in the process of forming a new political party.
The group has the support of eight MPs and six assemblymen, with more expected to sign up in the coming months.
"Also in the group are Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Faiz Fadzul, whose late fathers helmed PAS at one time.
The immediate reaction from the PAS leadership was surprisingly subdued, with some adopting a "wait-and-see" stance.
PAS election director Datuk Mustafa Ali said the party had no plans to sack anyone "at this point in time".
"However, our constitution is very clear - the membership of PAS members who form a new political party or join another party will automatically cease. It (Harapan Baru) is now just a movement, so we will be accommodating," he added.
However, Dewan Ulama chief Datuk Dr Mahfodz Mohamad said disciplinary action could be taken if there were complaints from party members.
Saying that he had received calls and text messages from members outraged that the group had used PAS premises for activities against the party, the Johor-based ulama added:
"We know they want us to sack them. What they are doing is not new, they were already criticising the party and attacking our president before this."
PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, who referred to the breakaway faction as "our brothers", wished the group good luck.
He said PAS has 1.1 million members and recruited 6,000 new members over the last month.
"We have the mandate of the delegates to continue with our agenda. This is a democratic country and we cannot stop them from leaving," he said.
Disciplinary committee chief Dr Daeng Sanusi said those in the group had no grassroots support and did not deserve to be leaders.
The Harapan Baru movement is promising a more inclusive and progressive Islam with the slogan "Rahmat Untuk Semua" (Blessings For All). It aims to serve and bring justice to all Malaysians.