Updated at 7.05pm on 25 Sept 2009
PETALING JAYA, 25 Sept 2009: Will the PAS leadership take action against the party’s Selangor commissioner Datuk Dr Hasan Ali for undermining Pakatan Rakyat (PR)?
Senior party leaders are unhappy with Hasan and Selangor PAS secretary Mohd Khairuddin Othman who backed his boss, Hasan, by saying that the party was ready to pull out of PR in Selangor if all its elected representatives agreed.
“The secretary had no right to say that. PAS has rules about such decisions and we are committed to staying in Pakatan. Even as the state commissioner, Hasan has no right to decide to pull out on his own,” party vice-president Salahuddin Ayub told The Nut Graph today.
Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad
PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said such statements should not be allowed at a time when PR was in the midst of becoming a formal coalition.
He also hinted that the next central working committee meeting could possibly decide on action against Hasan, who is an executive councillor in the Selangor government.
“He should not be allowed to repeatedly make comments that undermine Pakatan. He should also remember that he is state commissioner by appointment. He was not elected,” Dzulkefly told The Nut Graph in a phone interview today.
The latest of Hasan’s controversial statements was on the state government’s Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat). Selcat has been questioning district officers about the spending of allocations by Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblypersons in two months just before the March 2008 general election.
While Hasan said he supported Selcat’s intentions, he publicly criticised the manner in which the questioning was conducted, suggesting that the district officers had been treated like schoolchildren. He also suggested that Selcat members should comprise non-politically aligned persons like retired judges.
Mohd Khairuddin’s statement trigged the possibility of a hung assembly similar to Perak when three assemblypersons left PR to become BN-friendly independents.
PAS has eight state seats in Selangor, while Parti Keadilan Rakyat has 15 and DAP 13. BN has 20 seats and needs exactly eight more to have the 56-seat assembly hang.
Several attempts by The Nut Graph to contact Hasan proved futile.
Hasan Ali (illustration by Lainie Yeoh)
Prior to this, Hasan has been in the spotlight for attempting to ban the sale of beer in Muslim-majority areas. He had also asked for fellow executive councillor Ronnie Liu‘s portfolio to be changed after accusing the DAP elected representative of interfering in a local council seizure of beer from a 24-hours convenience store in Shah Alam. However, a licence is not required for the sale of beer, unlike liquor.
The beer sales spat between Hasan and Liu ended with the state government deciding to let convenience stores in Shah Alam practice self-regulation. Soon after, however, Hasan said he wanted to empower mosque officials to arrest Muslims if they drank alcohol. Hasan was then summoned by the Sultan of Selangor to explain the matter but the outcome of that meeting is not known.
In all these actions, Hasan is seen as attempting to undermine the cohesiveness of the Selangor PR government, something Dzulkefly does not deny.
“You cannot avoid perceiving it that way, can you?” Dzulkefly said.
He also took Mohd Khairuddin to task for claiming that Selangor PAS was willing to leave the PR alliance.
Dzulkefly said he had received text messages from PAS members in Perak, who were concerned at the possible scenario of a hung assembly following Hasan’s defiance and Mohd Khairuddin’s statement.
“He has no authority to say that. He is only an office-bearer at the state level. They must realise that they are in government because they are in a coalition. They should know that PAS alone could not have won. We cannot betray the trust of the rest of the coalition.”
“We understand the anxiety. The central committee is united that something must be done.”
Separately, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in a press statement today said the issues Hasan raised about Selcat would be addressed internally in a meeting on Monday, 28 Sept 2009.
Khalid is calling Selcat, the executive councillors and the district officers involved in the Selcat inquiries to the meeting for all parties to raise their concerns.
“I believe the issue is merely one of miscommunication between the above parties and therefore will be addressed internally.
“I am also confident that all parties are professional enough to understand the scope of responsibility that each of them holds and that they are able to work as a team to ensure that the state operates efficiently and effectively,” he said.
Remember the unity talks?
Hasan has not always had a smooth working relationship with PKR and DAP colleagues over his Islamist stance.
Condemnation of him is the strongest this time around. Selcat chairperson and Selangor assembly Speaker Teng Chang Kim said Hasan was “the only problem” in PR Selangor government. DAP’s Klang Member of Parliament Charles Santiago called for Hasan’s removal as PAS state chief and executive councillor. DAP Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi also said Hasan should be given the sack lest he “help[s] Umno stage a Perak-like coup d’état”.
After the opposition won Selangor in the 2008 general election, Hasan had reportedly discussed the possibility of a pact with the BN’s Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, the former Selangor menteri besar.
Salahuddin does not deny this, but said that those “were just talks. It doesn’t mean he will join Umno”.
That incident was more than a year ago, and in the interim, Hasan’s other statements have spotlighted Selangor as the next PR state to fall into disarray after Perak. Interestingly, none of the more senior PAS leaders have publicly attempted to keep Hasan in line despite commitments to the national-level PR pact.
Bearing in mind that the top two PAS leaders were themselves supportive of unity talks with Umno, whatever reprimand Hasan receives, or not, will speak of the level of commitment to the PR pact.
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