Nasharudin keeps No. 2

By Adib Zalkapli and Shannon Teoh

Nasharuddin making a victory wave. – Picture by Choo Choy May

SHAH ALAM, June 6 – In a blow to its Pakatan Rakyat partners, the conservative faction in PAS has triumphed in the deputy president race with incumbent Nasharudin Mat Isa keeping his post.

Nasharudin’s stunning 480 to 281-vote win over Datuk Husam Musa will be seen as an affirmation that PAS should continue exploring cooperation on Malay unity.

Another contender Mohamad Sabu came in third with 261 votes, fulfilling his expected role as a spoiler for Husam and his pro-Pakatan faction, called ‘Erdogans’ in the Islamist party.

The results run completely contrary to earlier rumours that Husam had edged past Nasharudin in a race where the two frontrunners’ stand on Umno has been central to the campaign for the No. 2 seat.

Husam represents the pro-Pakatan faction in the party which favours strengthening the coalition led by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and are completely against a unity government with Umno.

Datuk Husam Musa, defeated after much hype. – Picture by Choo Choy May

The Kelantan executive councillor had also received the tacit support of party spiritual leader and Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, who has vowed not to cooperate with Umno.

Nasharudin who became the deputy president in 2005 was largely seen as the key figure behind attempt to unite the party with Umno due to his involvement in the clandestine Malay unity talk last year.

The Bachok MP also received the backing of the conservative religious scholars in the party.

In launching his campaign, Husam called Nasharudin as being “too liberal with Umno”, adding that unseating the two-term deputy president would make the party’s direction clearer.

Nasharudin, appearing to realise the disquiet in the ranks over the Umno talks, made a last minute denial on Tuesday night when opening the PAS Youth muktamar, but Husam accused him of hiding the truth.

In an immediate reaction after the results announcement, Husam said he is determined to stop any attempt to bring the party closer to Umno.

“I have said before that I contested to make my view known — to replace Umno,” he told reporters.

“But I am happy my message is accepted at the vice-president and central committee contest,” he added.

“The vice-presidents and the majority of the central working committee members can help realise my vision,” said Husam.

Leading the field of vice presidents is Pahang chief Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (871 votes) with former Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub (824) and former information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar (636) completing the lineup.

Party unity bureau chief Mujahid Yusof Rawa (277) and Kelantan deputy chief Datuk Nik Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah (333) lost out in the race.