Image from The Star
Photo: The Star

What is Amanah or GHB?

GHB stands for Gerakan Harapan Baru (New Hope Movement), and it is a movement made up of the former leaders of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS). It was launched on 13 July 2015 and is currently led by Mat Sabu, former deputy president of PAS. Other members include former PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub, former PAS Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, the former Umno vice-president who joined PAS. The movement goes by the slogan “Amanah. Progresif. Peduli.” (“Trustworthy. Progressive. Caring.”)

The political party itself was finally launched on 16 September at Interior Design Convention Centre (IDCC), Shah Alam, where thousands have attended and registered as members. Previously known as Gerakan Harapan Baru, the party is now called Parti Amanah Negara, or Amanah for short. Its president, Mat Sabu, had taken over an existing political party called Malaysian Worker’s Party and rebranded it in an effort to get Amanah registered. However, the party is not allowed to carry any programs under its new name until Registrar of Societies has approved of the name change.

Why form a new political party now?

GHB was formed after the split of Pakatan Rakyat – a coalition between PAS, DAP and PKR. After months of battling discrepancies in opinions, especially in regards to hudud, DAP finally announced that the alliance no longer existed on 16 June this year. However, they stressed that they will still work with PKR to reshape and realign Malaysia. PKR, on the other hand, claimed that they will continue to work with both DAP and PAS  but Pakatan Rakyat no longer functions ‘formally.’

DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang revealed that discussions were already underway between DAP, PKR and GHB to form a new coalition in August. In September, Amanah formed a new alliance with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Democratic Action Party (DAP) called Pakatan Harapan.

What are the core beliefs and principles of GHB or Amanah?

GHB was formed on the basis of inclusiveness and progressiveness. The members, who were previously from PAS, felt that PAS is no longer a party for all Malaysians but is instead becoming a heavily Islamist party. According to Parit Buntar MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, once established, the party will operate based on Islamic principles but will extend its membership to all Malaysians regardless of race or religion. Two types of membership will be available – full membership and associate membership for those who do not wish to make a full commitment to the party.

Does Amanah support hudud?

Amanah’s President, Mat Sabu has announced that Amanah’s vote on hudud will depend on the consensus which they will reach together with its partners, PKR and DAP. According to him, if they say no, then Amanah will vote against hudud. He stated that the penal code is not something that can be forced on the people, especially if Muslims and non-Muslims alike are against it.

What are their political plans in the near future?

Starting from end of July, GHB and its members held road shows from Perlis to Sabah to meet people and explain the movement’s core beliefs and principles. After the formation of the party, opposition leader Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail announced that if the pact take over federal power in the next general election (2018), Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be its candidate for Prime Minister.

How have Pakatan Rakyat politicians reacted?

There have been both positive and negative reviews from politicians regarding the formation of GHB, now Amanah. Pandan MP and PKR secretary-general, Rafizi Ramli had already expressed his full support of the movement. According to him, the movement is formed just in time to help the people of this country who are currently facing political, economic and social struggles. Similarly, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng declared his support of the movement, calling it a moderate and inclusive movement which DAP will be able to work with.

How has PAS reacted?

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, is skeptical of the movement and claims that it will not last two years without grassroot support. He also goes on to label the members as ‘PAS rejects.’ According to PAS’ deputy spiritual leader, Datuk Ahmad Yakob, PAS will not work with Amanah and is ready to fight them in the general election. PAS vice president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah has described Amanah as a betrayal.

How has UMNO reacted?

UMNO veterans on the other hand, feel that the progressives’ split from PAS might be an advantage for UMNO and BN, as explained by Semenyih assemblyman and Hulu Langat UMNO division chief, Johan Aziz. However, he also expressed lack of confidence in the new party’s chances in the general election.

What is Nazir Razak’s involvement in the party?

Pro-tem committee member of GHB Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa revealed previously that GHB was planning to invite CIMB Chairman Nazir Razak to join the movement. According to Mujahid, Nazir’s involvement would bring a great benefit to GHB. In relation to this, The Straits Times has also reported that Nazir, who is also the Prime Minister’s brother, may link his non-governmental organization (NGO) to GHB. As of now, GHB has already earned the support of Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, CEO of the Global Movement of the Moderates (GMM), who claims that they broadly agree to continue cooperation in the future and will work closely with one another.

Dhabitah Zainal

First published 3 August 2015, Updated 22 September 2015.