Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) yesterday said that its election manifesto will not mention the controversial pledge to turn Malaysia into an "Islamic state" and will instead mainly address woes faced by Malaysians, which include cost-of-living issues, reducing the income gap between rural and urban areas as well as increasing disposable income.
Leaders of the party told a news conference that it would also ensure that the country's legal and administrative systems follow "the requirements of the syariah" (Islamic law) as well as return state rights which they said had been taken away by the federal government.
"The main issues faced by the majority of the people are cost of living, security and national unity," said PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man after the party's monthly meeting. "These issues affect both Muslims and non-Muslims."
The official launch of the manifesto-Malaysia Sejahtera (Harmonious Malaysia) - is on Sunday.
Asked whether PAS will mention the term "Islamic state" in its manifesto, party secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said: "We are not using the terminology. Our approach is about a harmonious community... following God's laws."
This is a departure from previous elections when PAS openly championed turning Malaysia into an "Islamic state", scaring off non-Muslim voters.
PAS yesterday also confirmed that it would form a so-called "third force" in the coming election to contest against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and the opposition pact, Pakatan Harapan (PH).
The Islamist party has signed an electoral pact to form Gagasan Sejahtera (Movement of Harmony), with Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia, which will be taking part in its first elections, and Berjasa, another Islamist but small political party.
PAS has said that it aims to win at least 40 seats and become a kingmaker as BN and PH battle for control of Malaysia's 222-member Parliament. It currently holds 13 parliamentary seats.
The opposition PH pact launched its manifesto last week, while BN is expected to do so after the dissolution of Parliament.