PAS admits it will take time to regain non-Muslim support

Published: 4:00 AM, June 19, 2017

ALOR SETAR — For the first time, opposition Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) has admitted that it is facing difficulty in winning support from non-Muslims, especially the Chinese, after ending its political cooperation with the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

But PAS Central Working Committee member Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz insisted that the situation is only temporary.

“The only thing occurring is the ‘fire’ ignited by DAP to prevent the support of non-Muslims for PAS, but this can easily be doused with ‘water’ by us in the PAS Youth wing, as we have good relations with non-Muslims,” Mr Nik Mohamad Abduh was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.

He said suggestions by certain quarters that PAS would take “a thousand years to win Chinese support” was inaccurate. “We will take a shorter time to win back their support. It’s just we admit that in the 14th general election, we won’t be getting the kind of support (from non-Muslims) like we had in the 13th general election.”

The 14th general election is widely expected to be called later this year.

PAS and DAP fell out over the former’s push to implement hudud law in Kelantan. This led to the dissolution of opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in 2015. The bloc was made up of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), DAP and PAS.

In May, PAS also formally cut ties with PKR, with the Islamist party’s powerful Shura Council deciding it was a necessary move to defend the party’s agenda.

The council — PAS’ highest decision-making body — said PKR failed to support its Islamic agenda, such as the Private Member’s Bill to enhance the Syariah Courts, attacked the party and made hurtful accusations.

PAS and PKR had retained a working relationship despite the demise of PR.

PKR and DAP, together with Parti Amanah Negara — a PAS splinter party — as well as the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, are now part of the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Despite admitting the difficulty in gaining non-Muslim support in the coming general election, Mr Mohamad Nik Abduh said he believed in the party’s strength.

He said there is strong support from Dewan Himpunan Penyokong PAS, a supporters group under the party, which has non-Muslims as its members.

Despite not working with DAP and PKR, PAS has support from other political parties, insisted Mr Mohamed Nik Abduh.

“We already have a front, Gagasan Sejahtera, through political cooperation with Ikatan (Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia). Also, Ikatan has members who include Chinese and Indians, while Parti Cinta Malaysia (Love Malaysia Party) in Penang has voiced its interest in joining Gagasan Sejahtera but this is still under discussion,” he said.

Gagasan Sejahtera was formed last year between PAS and Ikatan. It is touted as an alternative for voters who are fed up with the current political situation in the country.

Ikatan is led by former ruling party politician Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir. He formed the party in 2015 based on the platform of weeding out corruption. Mr Abdul Kadir was a federal minister under former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s administration.

The Love Malaysia Party, which was founded in 2009, is a neutral party that is friendly towards the ruling coalition. AGENCIES