Pro-Anwar faction gains slight edge in PAS polls

Pro-Anwar faction gains slight edge in PAS polls
(From left) PAS vice-presidents Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and Salahuddin Ayub, president Abdul Hadi Awang, deputy president Mohamad Sabu and secretary-general Mustafa Ali raising linked hands in a show of unity at the party congress, held in Shah Alam over the weekend. This year's meeting saw a tussle between the party's conservative ulama and progressive factions.

MALAYSIA - COMING out of its most divisive party elections ever, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) affirmed the need to strive harder to win Malay votes and to continue working with the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition coalition.

This year's meeting saw an all-out tussle between its conservative ulama (cleric) faction, which is pushing for a return to the party's religious roots, and its progressive faction, which has an eye on the national stage.

Wrapping up the congress on Sunday, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, a progressive, said that without the PR alliance, the Islamic party would be stuck in the Malay-belt states in the north and east of peninsular Malaysia.

"But with Pakatan, we conquered Selangor and, God willing, it will be Johor next," he said in a speech.

Party elections - held every two years to elect top office-bearers - were fractious, as both the ulama group and the rival Anwarina faction used social media to denigrate each other.

The Anwarinas are so named because they support opposition alliance leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Election results showed the Anwarinas gaining an edge over the ulamas, but it was slight.

The ulama faction had talked of wanting to "review" its alliance with the PR - which includes the mostly Chinese Democratic Action Party and Mr Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

However, the results of the elections demonstrated that party members mostly wanted the Islamic party to stay in PR.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang - who has taken a neutral stance in the ulama-Anwarina tussle - was returned unopposed.

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