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Don't underestimate PAS, says political analyst

Imran Hilmy

GEORGE TOWN: PAS should not be taken lightly when it revealed its intention to be a kingmaker and to form the next federal government, said Penang-based political analyst Wong Chin Huat.

He said PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang was serious with the Islamist party's intention and warned voters not to laugh off the suggestion that the party might become a pivotal element in the formation of the new federal government after the 14th General Election (GE).

"When he (Abdul Hadi) said recently PAS intends to become a kingmaker by winning 46 seats and forming the government, don't take that he was just 'syok sendiri' (self-indulgent), he's not.

"Why I say that is because PAS may not win the 46 seats to become a kingmaker but it only needs to confirm that in the next general election, the opposition alliance would collapse without them," he said during the "Malaysian Elections 2018: Dimensions of Conflict" talk at Penang Institute think tank.

The opposition only won 74 seats from the total of 222 parliamentary seats in the last general election and if the Opposition wins less in this coming one, the people will conclude that it had fared worse than the last time.

He pointed out the simple explanation that can be concluded from this scenario was the opposition fared better with PAS compared to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad leading the charge.

"The conclusion is PAS is more powerful than Mahathir," he said, adding that it also means that PAS would be in a powerful position to tell either side of the fray that "if you want to say in power you need me".

He said PAS would be in a position where they feel that they may not need to be the largest bloc, but only need to be pivotal and indispensable to anyone who will form the next federal government.

Hadi was quoted as saying that the Islamist party is confident that they will be able to win the seats needed, thus making other parties depend on them in order to form a government.

It was reported that PAS had announced it will contest 130 parliamentary seats.

In the previous 13th GE, PAS won 22 parliamentary seats when it was part of the now defunct Pakatan Rakyat.

Wong who is head of the political science unit at Penang Institute also called on voters to cast their votes during the 14th GE as it is important in exercising the right of every citizen in this country.

He said if voters decide to stay home, it will help make gerry-meandering effective.

"The only way to make gerry-meandering ineffective is to make sure the percentage who come out to vote is high and every vote matters but if you choose to stay at home, it is like basically telling the Election Commission (EC) to decide for you," he said.

Wong was one of the panelists that also included Penang Institue's executive director Datuk Dr Ooi Kee Beng and G20 member Datuk Dr Johan Ariffin Samad.


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