Haji Yusof Rawa, who died two weeks short of his 79 birthday on 29 April 00, is a more important man in
PAS was formed, interestingly enough, at the house of Dato' Ahmad Badawi, the father of the deputy prime minister, in Kepala Batas, when the UMNO Bureau of Religious Affairs walked out of UMNO in sympathy withthe then UMNO president, Dato' Onn bin Jaffar. The then head, Haji Ahmad Fuad, strongly supported Dato' Onn and wanted the Bureau to join him in Dato' Onn's new political party, the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP), but others disagreed. The meeting decided to go it alone, especially after Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmy, the intellectual collosus outside UMNO, and the Hamim political party, which preceded both UMNO and PAS, of Haji Abu Bakar Baqir from the Gunong Semanggul pondok, with their larger worldview of a Melayu Raya, decided to be associated with PAS. Dr Burhanuddin became PAS's third president in 1956, and it was from then on that its supranational policies were firmly put in place. Its orientation at the time was supranational,
The realities of UMNO, more than
PMIP was forced out of the National Front after UMNO openly moved to destroy its political base in Kelantan. The religious group in the party mounted a challenged that led in 1982 to the departure or isolation of the leaders, like Dato' Asri Muda, who believed in a supranational role for the Malays of Malaya. Haji Rawa was brought in as president in 1983 and for five years, during the cataclysmal breach in UMNO that continues to unsettle it to this day, and laid the foundations for a theocratical political base, with the Islamic wing firmly in control. The PMIP, now known by its Arabic initials, PAS, took on a decidedly religious tone, one which UMNO and the National Front used with good effect as a bogey that drove the non-Malays into the National Front ranks. But over the years, the PAS outlook, still defined by Islam, has undergone a massive shift, barely perceptible in the public eye. UMNO's frailities, especially since the presidency of the Prime Minister, and its dominant overview that only the leaders already elected have the right to rule, coupled with the impact of higher education within the Malays, and PAS's persistent spread of the world, attracted a large number of professional Malays into its ranks.
Haji Yusof Rawa's role in all this, although he had left the PAS presidency 12 years ago, is crucial. He was the father figure the PAS Islamicists had, but his role went beyond that of a figurehead. PAS leaders told me, when I asked them about his leadership years ago for an article I was writing then, that he provided the solidity that enabled the party to develop into what it is today. His background would have prepared him for that -- after his Junior Cambridge Examination at the
PAS's strength these days is not in its promise of a theocratic state in which Islam rules. But, as UMNO finds out, a political party cannot run too far away from its constituency. The secular Islam of UMNO is now fine-tuned by a decidedly practical theocratic decisions, as if to suggest to the Malays that secular or not, Islam would be applied in its theocratic frame. PAS, on the other hand, finds that to attract non-Malays and non-Moslems frightened of its theocratic agenda, becomes openly considerate of non-Muslims and non-Malays in its political agenda. So, the secular Islamic UMNO forbids the building of a Catholic church in Shah Alam, while the PAS administration in Kelantan is upset that a Catholic church is run down, and exhorts the Catholic Church to repair, promising aid if needed.
In this respect, Haji Yusof Rawa is a protagonist in that struggle between its theocractic impulses and its supranational worldview. Not an intellectual, his views, though not pronounced in the 1970s, when I would talk to him about it, was clearly with the theocratic model that PAS adopted in 1983. In this, he had a more important role than he is credited with. His stewardship at the time ensured also that PAS as a political party would exist; the fratricidal quarrels within PMIP after its expulsion from the National Front would have destroyed its raison d'etre had it not been for saner figures, on both sides of the political divide, to keep it together. But the split could not have happened at a better time for PAS. The education system was by the early 1980s wholly Malay, a post-May 13 act by the then federal education minister and later chief minister and Yang Dipertua Negeri of