Thursday January 31, 2013
Making a clear stand on Nasha
By JOCELINE TAN
Former PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa who joined the Prime Minister’s delegation to Palestine has been told by his party that he is free to ‘divorce’ and ‘marry another woman’.
IT is likely that PAS members were stunned to see the photograph of their former deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa standing next to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak when the Prime Minister visited Gaza, Palestine.
But some of them were also hopping mad because this was not the first time that Nasharudin had accompanied Najib on an official overseas trip. There is no hard and fast rule about things like this but political convention dictates that a PAS leader would not wish to be part of a programme connected to the rival camp – more so when it involves a programme that would elevate the rival in the eyes of Muslims all over the country.
The party’s immediate reaction to the Gaza trip was to sack Nasharudin as a member of the Syura Council of Ulama, the party’s most powerful decision-making body.
Nasharudin is once again the centre of media attention. Yesterday, when Nasharudin was spotted at a forum on the “kalimah Allah” issue in Kuala Lumpur, reporters immediately made a beeline for him. They wanted to know his reaction, what he is going to do next and also the specific reasons for his party’s action against him.
The odd thing is that the man in the middle of it all has yet to be officially informed by his party even as news of his dilemma is splashed all over the media. He has had a stream of visitors to his house, all wanting to know why this is happening.
Nasharudin’s relations with his party had been on a downward spiral even before he lost his deputy president post to Mohamad Sabu in 2011. After the defeat, he was appointed to the party central committee and made head of the international bureau.
There were complaints that he did not attend to his duties nor attend any meetings. As a result, they took away the international bureau post, then they expelled him from the central committee and now he has been sacked from the Syura Council.
Party sources said the Syura Council cracked the whip because he had made statements that were not in line with the body and also because he did not attend meetings.
Many think that the party’s next move will be to sack him. Any lesser person in PAS, it is said, would have been sacked long ago.
Some are wondering why Nasharudin’s dilemma is such a big deal. Well, he was a two-term deputy president and before that he was the vice-president and the secretary-general of PAS. He used to be a big gun in the party and had been projected as the likely successor to party president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang.
But everything started to go wrong for him after he was associated with a group advocating “unity talks” with Umno and that did not go down well with many people in the party.
Prior to his trip to Gaza with the Prime Minister’s delegation, Nasharudin had accompanied the Prime Minister to Mecca where he acted as the translator for Najib during an exclusive meeting with leading ulama figures in the Saudi Arabia kingdom.
Photographs of Nasharudin seated on the carpeted floor next to Najib had riled the PAS rank and file but there was nothing much they could do.
But pictures from the Gaza trip was the final straw for PAS leaders. The photograph showed the group holding up their palms in prayer over a ruin caused by Israeli bombs – Najib was flanked by Nasharudin on the left and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on the right.
PAS leaders said it showed just how close Nasharudin had become to Umno and Najib and the sarcastic remark from one detractor was that “Nasharudin has arrived”.
“It’s part of his strategy to show he is someone respected by the president of Umno. He wants to show us he is a big name, he is in their good books and can deliver things to Najib. He already has one foot in Umno and his heart is with Najib,” said a top PAS official.
But Nasharudin was not in Gaza just to make up the numbers. He has a fantastic network of contacts with leaders in the Middle East and he is acquainted with the Hamas Prime Minister. His WhatsApp photo ID shows him with the Hamas Prime Minister in the latter’s office.
Part of Nasharudin’s networking success has to do with his personality – he is gregarious, likeable, has a natural talent for conversation and speaks fluent Arabic. Nasharudin has an obvious talent for languages, be it English, Bahasa Malaysia or Arabic.
PAS had also leveraged on Nasharudin’s connections when he was up there. Hadi used to rely on him during international trips because although Hadi speaks good Arabic, he was seriously deficient in social and conversational skills.
Only a handful in PAS have been willing to condemn him though. One of them is Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, who said that Nasharudin was not indispensable and could be easily replaced in the Syura Council.
The harshest remarks have come from Mursyidul Am Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat who heads the Syura Council. He announced that Nasharudin was no longer welcome as an election candidate in Kelantan which had hosted safe seats for party leaders who cannot win elsewhere.
The elderly leader had said in his usual roundabout and provincial way: “Divorce between men and women is normal. Even though we celebrate our wives, slaughter the cow, sound the gong and pay homage to the Prophet, divorce is still a normal thing.”
The message was clear: Nasharudin was free to quit PAS and join another party if he wishes.
So will PAS sack their former deputy president? Very likely, yes. And probably after the general election to avoid more political fallout.