Malaysian Islamic party PAS urges Malay-Muslim unity at next general election

KUALA LUMPUR – The leader of Malaysia’s Islamist party on Sunday (Sept 13) urged its members to remain faithful to its cooperation with former political enemies Umno and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia as Malay-Muslim leadership is needed to helm the country.

Speaking to about 400 delegates at Parti Islam SeMalaysia’s annual congress in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said: “All party members… must remain the constant machinery of struggle. Let us repeat the history that PAS has never lost in all political cooperation with other parties as long as we remain steadfast with Islam.

“Even if we do not reach the level of ‘tamkin’ (fully in power) and are still not satisfied, all PAS members must carry out their respective duties, with the role of carrying the Islamic teachings that we uphold.”

Referring to how PAS first teamed up with Umno in Sept 2019 to “uphold Islamic leadership”, Mr Hadi said the party’s subsequent cooperation with Malay party Bersatu and lawmakers from other parties led it to form part of the country’s ruling government.

PAS is a member of the Perikatan Nasional alliance that has governed the country since March. PN, led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, had ousted the former Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration after pulling together lawmakers from Bersatu, Umno, PAS, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Sarawak parties to form a slim majority in Parliament.

Snap polls are widely expected to be called in the next few months as Tan Sri Muhyiddin seeks to establish a stronger mandate to govern.

Rallying the troops yesterday, Mr Hadi said he was confident the party would continue to dominate in the three Malay-belt states – Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah – where it forms the state government.

PAS, which had been in the opposition for 42 years, currently has 18 federal lawmakers in the 222-seat Parliament. It has formed an alliance of Malay-Muslim parties with Umno and Bersatu called Muafakat Nasional (MN) to corral the votes of the country’s main ethnic group.

These three parties, however, had previously split the vote in Malay-majority wards during the May 2018 general election, raising doubts about whether they can agree on dividing these seats between them.

“We are discussing (about the seats) and many have been solved. It is not over yet as the date for the next election is still not announced. In Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, we will dominate,” Mr Hadi said, as quoted by news site Malay Mail.

PAS was part of the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government from 1974 to 1977, and had then worked with Umno to capture all 36 state seats in Kelantan. Its then president Asri Musa also became a Cabinet minister.

However, following a rift with Umno, PAS left the BN government and contested on its own in the 1978 general election but failed to capture the state, winning only two seats.

Umno and PAS remained fierce rivals until last September, when they formed MN to unite against perceived threats to Malay rights from the PH government.

In his speech, Mr Hadi said that Malay-Muslim unity is needed to save the country and lead it in the right direction.

“Let’s be united in our current political coalition to face the 15th general election… to form a stronger government… that receives the support of the majority of the people,” he said.

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