KUALA LUMPUR – June 12, 2015: With the ulama faction having reclaimed the party’s wheel, Pas may give Umno a run for its money; raising more Malay votes in the next general election, say political analysts.
Universiti Utara Malaysia senior lecturer Associate Professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said the domination of pro-ulama camp in Pas’ recently held elections in conjunction with its muktamar (annual general assembly) may bank in more votes for the party.
“In the previous general elections, some of Pas supporters in the rural areas balloted for Umno because they believed the Islamist party was off track from championing issues relating to Islam.
“Now that the ulama camp is officially steering the party, we can expect the support for the party would increase,” he said.
Azizuddin, however, opined that having pro-ulama heading the party, Pas would pay a certain price.
“Pas would suffer losses in urban areas including Selangor; especially if it proceeds with the motion to sever ties with its Pakatan Rakyat ally DAP.
“Many Pakatan supporters voted for Pas solely for its alliance in Pakatan,” he added.
Though Pas may gain more support with the lure of its freshly-elected leadership, Azizuddin believed Umno would not be sidelined.
He told The Mole that Umno would only grow stronger even if Pas parted ways with DAP.
“Nonetheless, the party seems to have a lot on its plate lately with elder statesman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad initiating a campaign against Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“The bad blood between the two leaders must end before the people start losing interest in Malaysian politics as a whole.
“With Pakatan having its internal rift between component parties and Umno is no different; the new voters who could be the deciding factor in the general election would prefer not to vote at all,” he said.
The National Council of Professors (MPN) Politics, Security and International Affairs Cluster secretary Prof Datuk Abdul Halim Sidek said that Pas getting rid of its progressive faction was indeed a tactical move to brace for the next general election.
“Pas supporters are now convinced that the party has returned to its Islamic root and based on the attendance in the muktamar, the majority of the delegates were youths and young adults.
“Come the 14th General Election (GE14) in less than three years, these young delegates would cast their vote for the party in a heartbeat,” he said.
While acknowledging the possible growth in Malay support for Pas, Halim did not think Umno’s position as ruling Malay party would be threatened.
“Umno still has the support from Barisan Nasional component parties, especially ones in Sabah and Sarawak who have proven their loyalty to Umno year in and year out.
“PKR has very little support in the two states with only two parliamentary seats in hand, whereas Pas has none,” he added.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak senior lecturer Dr Jeniri Amir, on the other hand, feels that the new composition in Pas leadership does not guarantee a support boost for the party.
“Ulama domination is not a factor but if Pas split from DAP, the Islamist party would definitely pull new voters into its camp.
“However, Pas would also experience a significant loss in its non-Malay voters list,” he said.
The pro-ulama bloc slew the Pas election that was held last Thursday in Kuala Selangor.
The victory was perceived by many as a signal that the rejuvenated party is adamant in severing its ties with DAP after putting up with the Chinese-dominated party’s verbal attacks on Pas’ policies and stance for years.
Speculations were heightened as a motion by Pas’ Dewan Ulama to part ways from its strange bedfellow was adopted without debate at the muktamar.
Though the final decision has yet to be determined by the Ulama Syura Council, DAP spared no time putting the heat on Pas’ representatives in Penang and Selangor, demanding for their resignation in the Pakatan-led states.