'Pas preparing for early GE15'

Nor Fazlina Abdul Rahim

Pas’ 64th Muktamar will be held this weekend. The summit will likely discuss the Islamic party’s performance in the 14th General Election, as well as its newfound cooperation with Umno and non-Muslim opposition parties.

NSTP journalist NOR FAZLINA ABDUL RAHIM interviews Pas secretary-general and 64th Muktamar chairman Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan for his take on the issues.

.Question: What will be the main topics arising at the post-election Muktamar ?Answer: This year, the Muktamar will only be held for two days. Previously, it was held for three, beginning on a Friday. This time, it will begin this Saturday (Sept 15).

Secondly, there will be no party elections, and the gathering will not be long. It will kick-off at 9am and the programmes include an awards presentation and launch of certain events.

We expect the launch ceremony to end before 12.30pm. There will be two speeches at the launch — one from the secretary-general as the Muktamar chairman and the other by Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who will then open the Muktamar.

The president’s speech is expected to take about one hour. After the lunch break, we will continue with the day’s programmes from 3pm until 7pm. We will resume the gathering again at 9pm until midnight.

On Sept 16, the second day, the day’s programme will start from the morning until they are concluded at 5pm.

Pas chose Terengganu as the venue because the party had successfully wrested the state back from Barisan Nasional (BN). All facilities are also available. They include the stadium in Gong Badak, which has a hall that can accommodate 5,000 visitors.

This is the reason Pas had invited many guests. Apart from the main Muktamar, we will also hold the Dewan Ulama Muktamar on Sept 13, while Youth and Women meetings will be on Sept 14.

This year will also be our first to organise the Pas Supporters’ Convention, where the party president is expected to deliver a keynote address.Q: Who are the guests or VIPs at this year’s gathering?A: Among the guests that Pas had invited are several state party veterans. We also invited other leaders of political parties nationwide, especially from the opposition, such as Umno, MCA and MIC. We have sent invitations by hand, asking them to attend the Muktamar.

Umno had confirmed its attendance. Invitations have also been sent to 10 of its (Umno) top leaders, including Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and its political bureau members. The other parties had yet to give their response. We also have guests from abroad, including Arab nations and those from Africa, as well as international political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). We will have Pas overseas representation, such as from Ireland.Q: Will details of the Pas-Umno cooperation be discussed? A: The discussion that we expect to crop up at the Muktamar may include issues relating to the current political situation as this gathering is the first after GE14, which has brought a drastic change in the country’s political landscape. Once, there may have been a change in a state government’s administration, such as in Kelantan, Penang, Selangor and Kedah. But this time around, there was a first, in that the Federal Government changed hands. So, we expect the delegates to focus on the GE14 results.

Secondly, we also expect delegates to raise political issues, specifically involving Pas itself.

In GE14, we saw that Pas went alone, and yet, it managed to achieve a positive outcome by increasing the states it controls from one to two. Though we faced three-cornered fights in GE14, we still managed to garner 18 parliamentary seats and 90 state seats nationwide.

From a political point of view, it is a good achievement and this will be a topic that will be discussed.

The delegates are also likely to touch on strategies that will be taken by the party for GE15.

We believe that GE15 will take place in less than five years based on the way Pakatan Harapan (PH) is governing the country.

I also expect delegates to touch on the approach taken by Pas leaders in their cooperation with parties in the opposition bloc, which this time around includes Umno, MCA and MIC, who were previously our opponents.

This kind of cooperation initiated by the Pas president showed that we are able to work together in a single opposition platform.

In the Dewan Rakyat, Pas members of Parliament (MP) are able to discuss with other opposition MPs before delivering their speeches and pose questions to the PH government. This cooperation exists in Parliament.

Looking at the three by-elections in Selangor, it clearly shows Pas’ stand. It is not our principle to have “permanent cooperation”, but more on the approach of having a strong opposition to face a strong government.

For example, in Selangor where the last election saw PH winning 51 of 56 seats, leaving five to the opposition — four BN and the other to Pas.Q: Datuk, what can you expect from delegates on the Pas-Umno cooperation?A: We believe that there will be no problems from Pas members. This can be seen when we directed them to support other parties in Selangor.

Party members and state leaders had no problems because we have clearly explained to them that whether with Umno or MCA, it is in a joint opposition platform. We cooperated well under a strong united opposition spirit. The cooperation is the same as the previous relationship with DAP and PKR. So, I do not see any big issues. Under this cooperation, we are not bound in facing the general election and, at the same time, we are able create a strong opposition bloc.

This is what we need to consider if three-cornered fights are to occur, it will not be from our side.Q: What is your view on the current PH government?A: We think our opinion is similar to the assessments by other parties. PH has listed 10 promises, but they failed to fulfil all. Pas has given them a 30 per cent score for their governing performance and other quarters have even given lower.

Pas practices an open political culture. We will support, what good was done by a government and we will do otherwise, including responses, such as cautioning them as we did with the previous BN government.

We will not oppose for the sake of opposing, but will provide effective views as a constructive opposition does.Q: What is Pas’ plan in facing GE15?A: Planning for future is a common practice in Pas. We have set up a party election department as soon as the general election was over.

It will do the necessary work to face the coming general election. We have undertaken efforts to register more voters.

Here, I like raise the issue of the Election Commission (EC) not appointing an assistant registrar officer (ARO). Normally, the AROs are elected from political parties, allowing them to register voters, thus negating the need for prospective voters to go to the EC’s office to register.

However, until today, no such appointment has been made and this makes it difficult for us to register voters. Making the registration process easy is among the electoral reforms that the EC needs to undertake. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd