A total of 413 Parti Islam seMalaysia (PAS) office-bearers from Selangor resigned from their positions yesterday, ahead of plans by a splinter group to form a rival Islamic party.
The New Hope Movement (GHB) - made up of moderate Islamic leaders who were ousted in June party polls - is set to form a party tentatively called Amanah (Malay for "trust") by the end of the month, but this is the first clear sign that the group has support from PAS grassroots.
The secular Democratic Action Party (DAP) and PAS had severed ties after the latter's internal elections due to protracted feuds over the chief ministership of Selangor and plans to introduce Islamic criminal law.
The disputes finally destroyed the tripartite Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition after seven years, during which it pushed the long-ruling Barisan Nasional to the brink of defeat.
But GHB leaders, who have differed with PAS' leadership on these issues, moved in recent months to be a direct replacement for PAS in a potential new opposition pact. "Now we are still PAS members, just that we don't have any position," GHB Selangor coordinator Izham Hashim told a press conference just outside Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
"This is to help the transition for committee members who want to leave and committee members who want to stay."
It is unclear how many of the 413 who resigned will eventually join Amanah, or how many ordinary members will follow the grassroot leaders. But PAS, which claims a membership of over one million, will likely be unperturbed as GHB's leaders are mostly popular in west coast states like Selangor and Johor.
PAS vice-president Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said yesterday the party leadership would meet on Sept 11 to decide the fate of members involved in GHB. He said each state leadership would submit reports to the national central committee.