KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — In a public declaration of his support for Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB), former Umno minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim told the group of ousted PAS progressives that they represent the country’s final line of defence against Umno’s allegedly corrupt leaders and conservative Islamists like the “hand-chopping” Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
In his latest blog posting, Zaid said a progressive Malay party may be the country's last hope in the dilemma of either choosing a “corrupt bunch of Malay leaders milking the country dry” or “a bunch of ulama who do nothing but serve their own political ends.”
“So, progressive Malay Muslims must be the buffer between racists — whoever they may be — and the targets of that racism (increasingly, the Chinese community).
“By the same token, progressive Muslims are our last hope against the hand-chopping Abdul Hadi Awang and Co. who, if they gain power, will see Malaysian Muslims forever denied basic freedoms in their own country,” Zaid said, taking a swipe at the PAS president over his support for the controversial hudud law.
“To my friends Mat Sabu, Khalid Samad and others, there are thousands and thousands of Malay Muslims waiting to hear you across the land.
“They want something refreshing and truthful about the country and its leaders,” the former Umno man added, referring to former PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, two leaders in the GHB.
Zaid pointed out that the two GHB events held in Perlis and Kota Baru, Kelantan which was well-received and attended by many people will be the mark of the beginning of a Malay-Muslim political renaissance.
“Former PAS leaders, whom many have dubbed 'progressives', have taken a bold step towards providing an alternative political platform for Malays in the new movement called Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB).
“GHB is sick of corruption and abuse of power by Umno leaders and wants to see a democratic Islamic system of governance that can exist peacefully with other religions in Malaysia. To the surprise of many, the reception GHB received in both places was beyond expectation,” he added.
GHB has said it will register itself as a political party but with a new name on September 14, Shah Alam MP Khalid said yesterday.
In a report by news portal Astro Awani, Khalid added that GHB will then hold its first party convention on September 16 in Kuala Lumpur.
Earlier this month, Khalid told reporters that GHB members would wait for the 100-day deadline they had given the PAS central leadership to respond to their previous demands before taking the next step.
The 100-day deadline expires on September 14.
Last week, PAS’ defeated professional faction launched the new movement called GHB, and announced they will go on a nationwide tour from now until August to convey to the public its goals.
Its chairman Mohamad Sabu, or better known as Mat Sabu, said while the movement was supportive of hudud, the Islamic penal law that was the cause of a breakdown in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat pact, it will pursue this goal democratically.
Other personalities in the movement include PAS members such as former Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, former Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat, and others who were defeated in the Islamist party’s polls recently.
The new movement is a further step towards the formation of a substitute party to PAS in a new federal opposition pact.
Selangor PAS has since sacked all its members who are involved with the movement, despite the party’s national leadership saying that no action will be taken as long as there are no complaints lodged against them.
PAS’ Ulama Wing has since warned its members to not be enticed by “satanic” invitations from the party’s ousted progressives to join their budding GHB, claiming the movement is fueled by “resentment.”
Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia also warned that the upcoming party will only serve to divide the Malay community politically and will not do any good for the development of the ethnic community.