After ‘failed’ PAS, Mat Sabu says new party will be Malaysia’s Islamic Renaissance ‘beacon’

PAS progressives leader Mat Sabu gave an interview to Malay Mail Online to talk about the possible formation of a new party known as ‘Gerakan Harapan Baru’, on July 10, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture by Kamles Kumar
PAS progressives leader Mat Sabu gave an interview to Malay Mail Online to talk about the possible formation of a new party known as ‘Gerakan Harapan Baru’, on July 10, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture by Kamles Kumar

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — PAS’s ousted progressives plan to muscle their way ahead of the Islamist party back to the forefront of Malaysian politics with a new party one leader has described as a “beacon” of the Islamic Renaissance movement both locally and to the world.

The leader – Mohamad Sabu, who is more popularly known as Mat Sabu – said the current PAS leadership has deviated from the party’s original Islamic ideals, become corrupted by material wealth and lost its way.

The new yet-to-be-named movement of “new hope” or Gerakan Harapan Baru as it is referred to, will pick up the slack for the Islamist party, the former PAS deputy president said.

Speaking to Malay Mail Online in an interview yesterday, Mat Sabu said what he wants is to reunite “akidah” (creed) with “akhlak” (morals), both of which he said have been separated from one another due to corruption and materialism.

“If this new party is just to replace Umno or PAS, I don’t agree. But we must introduce that akidah and akhlak must go together in this party.

“Our akidah and akhlak is separated already. Now my struggle is I want to combine both of these back,” Mat Sabu said.

But the outspoken leader who, along with PAS’s progressive faction, was routed out from the party during its last internal polls, said the struggle must look beyond geographical boundaries.

He said Islamic movements from around the world like those in Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, as well as Malaysia have failed for the past three decades to unite its people.

“The whole of the Muslim world must reintroduce the Islamic movement or the Islamic struggle because it has failed for more than thirty years.

“The renaissance or the re-emergence of the Muslim world must happen. It has not happened but people still have high hopes it will,” he told Malay Mail Online.

“I have talked to a few intellectuals locally and internationally, they agree that we must reintroduce the Islamic movement to the Ummah. So this new party will come up to do that,” he told Malay Mail Online in an interview yesterday.

Mat Sabu said those in “Gerakan Harapan Baru” are still fine-tuning the details of the new party’s formation on matters like whether its members would include non-Muslims and its formal name.

“Harapan Baru is not the name of the party but is the name of group that is behind the movement. We call it “Harapan Baru” until the new party appears, we might include the word Islamic in the name.

“We are still discussing between ourselves if it is going to be a Malay Muslim based party. We are like PAS but with a change in structure. It is not detailed yet but maybe we don’t have a Dewan Ulama or Syura Council,” he added.

Mat Sabu, claims that the group, which comprises leaders like Parit Buntar MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa and former Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, has also not decided just yet who will lead the party.

For the time being, he said the movement only has a steering committee.

Mat Sabu, despite having been a PAS member for three decades, said he was not afraid that the new initiative might cost him his membership in the Islamist party.

He said he has accepted the likelihood that he would be sacked from PAS once the new party is formed.

The leader even cheekily said that being sacked was something he was hoping for.

“That is good, that is something I have been waiting for. I don’t think he (PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang) will,” he said and laughed out loud.

Talks of the Gerakan Harapan Baru, which in English means “a movement of new hope” started emerging after the last Muktamar where 18 of the PAS progressives were ousted from the central committee.

The party elections, also saw the Islamist party severing ties with DAP which led to the makeshift opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat being declared dead.

Most of the progressives banded together with support from other component parties like DAP and PKR to set up a new party that seeks to replace PAS as the Malay-Muslim grassroots party in order to form a new bloc.

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