PAS issues gag order amid bribery scandal

Party chief's son-in-law says 5 leaders received past financial benefits from Umno

KUALA LUMPUR • The son-in-law of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang has claimed that five party leaders received "bribes" and other financial benefits, including an Audi vehicle, from former rival Umno in the past.

But instead of pats on the back for bringing the issue to light, Mr Zaharudin Muhammad will have to face a disciplinary committee set up by PAS.

Embarrassed by the revelation, PAS yesterday issued a gag order banning members from discussing the issue publicly.

Since raising the matter last week, Mr Zaharudin, 43, has been attacked in hundreds of comments on his Facebook account for embarrassing the party. Some asked him to leave the Islamist party.

PAS has long denied receiving cash or other benefits from Umno, including claims in past years that it received RM90 million (S$30 million) from Umno when the two parties were publicly bitter political enemies.

Mr Zaharudin, who was formerly a member of PAS' influential Syura Council of senior clerics, claimed that the five leaders were members of the "dedak (bribery) cartel". He gave initials that could be used to identify them.

Mr Zaharudin said he is coming forward as he does not want the Islamist party to be dragged through the mud together with corruption-tainted Umno. He added that he wanted to clear the name of his father-in-law, Datuk Seri Hadi, who had been accused of receiving money from Umno.

MORALLY WRONG

The cases here were in a scale that did not break the law, but were wrong in terms of morals, religion and party integrity.

MR ZAHARUDIN MUHAMMAD 

NO PUBLIC DISCUSSION

PAS forbids discussions and debates in print and electronic media, as well as on social media and all forms of external broadcast that are not through the party channel.

PAS SECRETARY-GENERAL TAKIYUDDIN HASSAN

Mr Zaharudin said the bribes received were different from the RM90 million claims.

"The cases here were in a scale that did not break the law, but were wrong in terms of morals, religion and party integrity," Mr Zaharudin wrote.

The claims are being taken seriously, as Mr Zaharudin is Mr Hadi's son-in-law and is himself a respected cleric in PAS.

How PAS deals with political corruption in its ranks is being closely watched, coming at a time when its rapport with Umno is being questioned by some members, as the party claims to represent Islamic values that shun corruption.

Several former top Umno leaders, including former premier Najib Razak and former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, are facing a slew of corruption and money laundering charges in court.

But PAS leaders have generally set aside the concern of working with these leaders, saying Malay-Muslim unity is key to weakening the ruling Pakatan Harapan government.

PAS president Hadi, when asked if he gave his blessings for his son-in-law to expose the matter, said: "No, it is not true at all. None whatsoever."

Mr Hadi said the issue is already considered resolved, and that there is no need to raise it again.

But the political hot potato will not go away so quickly. So PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan yesterday issued a gag order.

"PAS forbids discussions and debates in print and electronic media, as well as on social media and all forms of external broadcast that are not through the party channel," Datuk Takiyuddin said. "Those who defy the order will be facing the disciplinary committee.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2019, with the headline 'PAS issues gag order amid bribery scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe