Pas is set to be the political party to watch as far as Malaysia’s Malay politics is concerned, says political analyst Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk.
Azeem, who is director of Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies said the ‘green wave’ is set to get stronger, especially in the six state elections, later this year.
The states are Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Penang.
“While it is not a healthy development, as it seems that political boundaries in the country are now being drawn along ethnic lines, the ‘green wave’ will continue to dominate in the state elections,” said Azeem.
Pas was the biggest winner in the 15th General Election – winning 49 parliamentary seats compared to the other Malay political parties – Umno (26), Parti Pribumi Bersatu (25) and Amanah (8).
“Pas emerged as the biggest winner, followed by the DAP, with 40 seats. Yet, Pas is not part of the government. And DAP does not have a high number of Cabinet positions,” he said.
“Instead, it is Umno who is calling the shots,” said Azeem, who added that people are fed-up with how things are evolving in Putrajaya.
He said the rising discontent could manifest itself in the results of the state elections.
Azeem said Pas, despite being an Islamic party, made major strides in GE15, not just in the rural areas but also in urban centres, due to a major “shift in thinking” among the voters.
“People voted for Pas not because they fully identify with Pas and its struggles … it was done more as a sign of protest,” he said.
“Voters wanted to register their dissatisfaction against Umno and BN. In fact, even Umno members themselves may have voted for Pas.”
He said it was likely that the voting trend will continue in the state elections, and that Perikatan Nasional (PN), which won 74 seats in GE15, would benefit, as Pas is part of the PN coalition, along with Bersatu and Gerakan.
“For the people, the fact that the deputy prime minister is someone from Umno who is facing criminal charges, and yet, who has been appointed to high office, says a lot about the integrity of Umno and the current government,” said Azeem.
“If leaders are willing to compromise their values for the sake of power, I think people will come to terms with the fact that whatever government we have today is not really walking the talk.”
Azeem also said Umno cannot get out of their comfort zone (the Malay heartland) in the state elections, regardless if it decides to go it alone or form a pact with Pakatan Harapan.
“They will still be contesting in Malay majority areas. Like it or not, they will not be contesting in non-Malay majority areas, or mixed seats,” said Azeem.
“How people vote, be it for, or against Umno, will give us an indication of the pulse on the ground with regard to the oldest Malay political party in the country,” said Azeem.
Image from Media Presiden Pas