The PAS Ulama Syura Council had never been given prominent media coverage before and many were not even aware of this so-called “highest body” in the party until the Selangor Menteri Besar (MB) issue came up.
Many political observers and even analysts do not understand the exact set-up in PAS and how its system works.
Using the court system as an analogy, the Syura Council is akin to the Court of Appeal or Federal Court, while the PAS Central Committee is like the High Court.
How could a Court of Appeal or Federal Court decide on a case when there has been no hearing in the High Court?
According to the PAS Constitution, Article 88 (1), action can only be taken if a matter is referred to the Syura Council. Its authority in legal terms is “referral” and not “of first instance” or inherent.
The Court of Appeal or Federal Court can only hear a case when the Attorney-General, plaintiff or defendant files an appeal if the judgement in the High Court is not in his favour.
The Syura Council can only decide on a matter if it is referred to it by the Central Committee.
In the Selangor MB issue, the Syura Council made known its stand to support Khalid Ibrahim even before the PAS Central Committee discussed the matter.
Under the PAS Constitution, Article 26 (9) (a), strategy implementation comes under the authority of the Central Committee.
What many have failed to understand is that the Syura Council’s role is to advise the party on policy matters.
In a normal scenario, if the Central Committee cannot arrive at a decision then it is up to the Syura Council to advise the party leadership.
After the 13th General Election, PAS leaders and members were divided on whether PAS should champion Islamic values and join Pakatan Rakyat or work with DAP on championing secular values.
Here the Syura Council played an important role and decided that PAS can work with DAP under the “Tahaluf Siyasi” (political cooperation) concept in order to achieve a common goal like good governance and service to the people.
In the “Kalimah Allah” issue, the council advised PAS leaders and made known its stand that PAS can support non-Muslim use of “Allah” for “God”.
However, it was strange that the council decided on an issue of governance when it declared that Khalid should continue as the Selangor MB. And it did this before the Central Committee had discussed the issue.
Thus, when the committee decided, at its meeting on Aug 17, that Khalid should be replaced, detractors were able to say that PAS had made a U-turn.
PAS’s credibility has come under question because of this mistake by the Syura Council. It should have waited for the Central Committee to make its decision on the MB issue.