IT IS not impossible for PAS to solicit the support of the non-Malays particularly the Chinese and Indians. Right now, the support for PAS is basically confined to Malays.
The Islamist party successfully maintained its stronghold in Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu during the six state polls on Aug 12 last year.
In the recent past, PAS alongside Bersatu has made inroads into other states. The only factor that stands in the way of Perikatan Nasional (PN) taking federal power is the conspicuous lack of non-Malay support.
Recently, a PAS leader told me in Penang that the party has the support of the Malays but lacking in non-Malay support. Going on the basis of such sentiments, PAS is indeed serious about winning over the non-Malay support.
PAS might be a regional party but considering the Malay swing in recent years, non-Malays are looking at the party seriously.
The recent overtures made by PAS national leaders in sending Deepavali and Thaipusam greetings to Indians further reinforces the notion that the party is serious about courting the non-Malays.
DAP’s scare tactic
In the last state elections, PN could have benefited from the drift of Indian voters away from the PH-BN (Pakatan Harapan-Barsan Nasional) coalition.
Getting non-Malay support is not something new to PAS. When the party was in the political coalition of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) with DAP and PKR, it had the support of the non-Malays.
After PAS broke away from the PR coalition, it sought to ingratiate itself with Malays rather than non-Malays.
The fire-brand politics of PAS leaders like Hadi Awang and others might have alienated the non-Malays particularly the Chinese.
This has been used and manipulated by the DAP to the extent to paint an extreme picture of PAS as the political enemy of the non-Malays.
It is this narrative that have been successfully used by DAP to ingratiate itself to the Chinese and not so much the Indians so much so that the PAS bogey-man narrative has been used by DAP to remain relevant among the Chinese.
Anyway, DAP’s relevance among the Chinese is function of the latter’s disdain for PAS. However, such a political equation is not something cast in iron given attempts by PAS to re-invent itself vis-a-vis the non-Malays might change the political arithmetic.
As they say, nothing is impossible in the mercurial world of Malaysian race and religious politics. It is immaterial how PAS has been negatively painted by the PH-BN coalition in general and the DAP in particular. The party should wave the olive branch towards the non-Malays.
Invaluable tips to win the Chinese heart
PAS must take serious steps to allay the fears of the non-Malays towards the party. It should not be forgotten that the non-Malays had such a high respect for the late PAS leader Tok Guru Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat.
PAS’ warming towards the non-Malays must go beyond sending festival greetings. There must be a political agenda to address the rights and grievances of the non-Malays/non-Muslims in the country.
It is not impossible to get the support of the non-Malays particularly the Chinese. The spell cast by the DAP on the Chinese might be something ephemeral.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet a non-Malay friend in my hometown, Sitiawan (Perak). He is a successful businessman in the town with grown-up children all studying overseas.
During our conversation, he suddenly remarked that non-Malays are not against PAS despite the bad publicity but if only the Islamic party can make serious overtures to them by way of respecting their rights.
Before we parted, he said with PAS already having the backing of more than 80% of the Malays, rallying the support of the non-Malays is not impossible if the Islamist party plays its card right.
PAS cannot be arrogant to take for granted that just because the party has the support of the Malay majority, it is only natural that non-Malays, too would follow suit.
There is nothing natural in politics. PAS must prove that it should be taken seriously by the non-Malays. To do this, PAS must convince the non-Malays that it means well for them in terms of protecting their political, economic, cultural and religious rights. – Feb 1, 2024
Former DAP stalwart and Penang chief minister II Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is chairman of the Urimai (United Rights of Malaysian Party) interim council.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic credit: Buletin Online