SHAH ALAM, Dec 9 — Parti Amanah Negara is no stranger to being overshadowed.
Not only is the Islamist party arguably the least dominant one in Pakatan Harapan (PH), but its 4th National Convention last week was unfortunately eclipsed by both the intense drama of PKR’s national congress and chest-thumping of the Umno general assembly.
Despite that, the party has made respectable strides in national politics and gained more supporters from states previously dominated by PAS, the party from which it splintered — Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.
For those who may have missed Amanah’s event, Malay Mail lists three takeaways from the convention:
1. What ‘mercy for all’ looks like
The “rahmatan lil ‘alamin” or “blessings for all mankind” concept is indubitably the lifeblood of Amanah, which was formed out of the so-called progressive faction in PAS — and to hammer home the point, the term was incessantly mentioned by its leaders in the convention.
One way the concept is realised is in the party’s inclusivity: non-Malay members are considered full members and are allowed to compete for all posts in the party. While ultimately none was voted into its committee, Hu Pang Chow was among those almost short-listed.
This point was not lost on the party, with vice-president Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa lamenting that delegates may have still voted along ethnic lines.
But another concern was how few women were also elected: just two out of 27. As a result, central committee member Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud blasted the party for its worsening patriarchy, and for not recognising the role of women in the party.
The party’s progressive slant also remains to be seen as it fishes for Malay-Muslim votes, with president Mohamad Sabu calling to counter “hyper-liberals” as the other extremists alongside “ultra ethno-nationalists”.
2. PAS’ shadow is big
Mohamad, also known as Mat Sabu, admitted that it is not easy for members to escape the PAS mentality, given the many years most of them spent in the conservative party.
“The shadow of the past is still present, looming, because like me, I have been trained since 1978 until 2015, so that is nearly 40 years.
“It is not easy to change this narrative. For now, it will seem difficult, but we still have time,” he told Malay Mail.
Some delegates also expressed concern that PAS was able to garner public attention despite remaining an Opposition party, with Kedah delegate Nasir Zakaria calling on party leaders to ramp up efforts to counter Umno that has now included “upholding Islam” as part of its struggles.
Analysts told Malay Mail that time was running out for Amanah to find its true calling, particularly with the PAS-Umno partnership called Muafakat Nasional cornering the market for Malay-Muslim support.
3. Can Amanah lend its ‘stability’ to Pakatan Harapan?
Amanah delegates were more than happy to keep the party’s status quo for now, with Mohamad and Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub continuing as the president and deputy despite receiving the seventh- and third-most votes among the 27 committee members, respectively.
All of Amanah’s ministers and deputy ministers were voted into their party’s leadership line-up except for Mohd Anuar Mohd Tahir, with Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad receiving the most votes (786).
Khalid and Amanah vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar also defended Mohamad’s reinstatement as president, stressing on the latter’s years of experience as an experienced politician who is still capable of leading the party regardless of the number of votes obtained.
In his wind-up speech yesterday, Mohamad lauded the party as presently “the most stable” in PH, and promised that it will not rock the boat as the coalition continues its task as a maiden government.
With internal rifts and so-called “foot-in-the-mouth disease” plaguing several Cabinet members and threatening the coalition’s reform agenda, Amanah may need to spread some of its “stability” around.