PAS chief slams 'troublemakers'

The president of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) has lashed out at his critics in the party, referring to them obliquely as "troublemakers", "hypocritical elements" and "know-alls" as he defended controversial moves he has made recently that have rocked PAS.

Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, in the opening speech of the party's annual congress yesterday, also put to rest talk that PAS might ally itself with archrival Umno, saying it would not betray Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

But he also warned his allies not to back-stab PAS, following a bitter episode in which two of its assemblymen sided with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) over the Selangor menteri besar crisis.

"In the history of PAS' struggle, we have never betrayed our partners. Therefore we ask that our partners not betray this cooperation too," he said to shouts of approval from the floor.

Some 2,000 delegates and officials from foreign embassies and international Islamic parties, including Hamas, were gathered in a huge air-conditioned tent at an open field for the opening ceremony in this northern Johor town.

"As we are a big political party, all big plans must be decided together before they are executed," Mr Hadi added.

In an omission that reflects the current tensions between Malaysia's three largest opposition parties, PAS' allies PKR and the Democratic Action Party (DAP) did not send their top-rung officials to the meeting.

In the past, PKR de facto chief Anwar Ibrahim and president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail regularly attended the opening ceremony, as did DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang. Yesterday, PKR sent two of its four vice-presidents, and DAP, only a central committee leader.

The bickering that has threatened to break up the six-year-old PR alliance is centred on a unilateral plan by PKR to remove popular Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and replace him with PKR president Wan Azizah.

While the DAP supports the plan, Mr Hadi and the PAS clergy wing have been backing Tan Sri Khalid, saying he did not do anything wrong.

The Selangor crisis has raised temperatures within the Islamic party itself.

Its liberal-leaning faction - led by deputy president Mohamad Sabu and vice-president Husam Musa - supported the decision to replace Mr Khalid, and several members anonymously used online media to attack Mr Hadi.

Party conservatives from the Ulama (clerics), Youth and Women's wings at their annual meetings this week threw their support behind Mr Hadi.

In his hour-long speech, the 66-year-old party stalwart used some of the strongest political language uttered by him in his 12 years as PAS president, as he laid out the party's cooperation with many allies over the past few decades, and told his critics to back off. "Let there not be people who feel they are very strong, impatient in the struggle, who are know-alls who could happily break our policies and aims," he said.

Asked at a news conference after his speech whether his ties with his deputy Mohamad Sabu were strained, Mr Hadi laughed and said: "How can I sit beside him if I cannot click with him?"

This article was first published on Sep 19, 2014.
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