Fourteen years on this day, Fadzil Noor, one of PAS’s most recognisable presidents, died shortly after undergoing a heart bypass surgery in Kuala Lumpur.
Fadzil was widely credited for his role in bringing PAS into mainstream politics, after decades of being perceived a rural party made up of religious scholars.
His son Faiz Fadzil recalls his father as someone who was open and who embraced differences of opinions.
“He was known for his openness in his political approach, and encouraged the professionals to join the party.
“Likewise he was the same as a father,” the lawyer, one of eight siblings, told Free Malaysia Today.
It was this openness that led PAS to forge ties with other opposition parties in the run-up to the 1999 general election, which was marked by some of the largest street rallies Malaysia had seen following the sacking and jailing of then deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
During Fadzil’s presidency, the PAS membership grew by leaps and bounds, thanks to an influx of professionals and former Umno members disappointed with the treatment meted out on Anwar.
Faiz, who is now part of the Amanah Youth leadership, said his father always drew a line between PAS and Islam.
“He wanted to educate PAS members to base PAS on Islam, and not Islam to be based on PAS,” he said.
He expressed regret that his father’s legacy was ignored by the current PAS leadership, who came to power after the Muktamar last year.
“He built a progressive PAS but what is happening now is PAS has gone back to the time prior to his leadership,” said Faiz.
Fadzil held the PAS presidency for three years when he died. His funeral was attended by tens of thousands in Kedah, after large crowds gathered in Kuala Lumpur to offer funeral prayers.