‘Gang Ustaz’ versus ‘Gang Publika’
There were two pieces of very significant views coming from PAS over the weekend but somehow no one deciphered the importance as yet.
In the first piece of news, Datuk Seri Hadi Awang disclosed that the Sheraton move was in the works soon after GE14. Basically, this confession by Hadi confirmed to the world that PAS was plotting against Malaysian voters the moment they lost in GE14.
There were basically two plots, though we will have to leave it to historians to find out exactly which plot was developed at which point and how they interacted. Datuk Seri Najib Razak and co got down to work probably from July 2018 onwards to try to go on a populist route to make it impossible for Pakatan Harapan to govern. The effects of this route was already highly visible by in the Seafield clashes in late November 2018 and the ICERD demonstration on 8 December, a Najib’s brainchild with PAS providing busloads after busloads of participants. Najib the ‘bossku’ was already a full-blown transformed man in the Cameron highland by-election in January 2019. PAS and UMNO were ‘engaged’ in October 2018 and formally ‘married’ in Muafakat Nasional in October 2019.
There was another ‘high politics’ route by Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. Their aim was to finish off both Najib and Anwar Ibrahim by getting MPs to crossover to Bersatu and eventually attempted to engineer a coup in October 2019 by pushing for PAS (18), GPS (18) and Hisham’s group (17) (53 in total) to replace DAP (42) and Amanah (11) (also 53 in total) in the Pakatan Harapan government.
PAS ‘plays both sides’. PAS was in the Muafakat coalition with Najib and Zahid Hamidi’s UMNO leadership in the populist route while at the same time working with Azmin, Hamzah and Hishamuddin’s plot.
In the second piece of news, PAS announced the postponement of its party’s muktamar and election for this year until after GE15. It is a very big news that I felt the media has yet to understand its significance. Of course the general election is around the corner. Other political parties have postponed party elections before but not for PAS. This is the first time ever in PAS’ entire history that the once-every-two-years party election was postponed. It is more than because of the imminence of the general election.
PAS is split between Gang Publika and Gang Ustaz. The former supports Tan Sri Muhyiddin and works very closely with Hamzah. Publika denotes Hamzah’s war room. Gang Ustaz are those who want to work with UMNO in the context of Muafakat Nasional. From what I heard, Hadi found out to his horror that Gang Ustaz was prepared to move against him or to side-line him by elevating him as Musyidul Am and installing Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man as president.
Given the razor-thin margin of Muhyiddin’s government and the intensity of UMNO’s civil war, it is easy to ignore what’s going on in PAS. But it is crucial too.