A look at Malaysia's opposition PAS in the recent by-election: Sin Chew Daily

PAS candidate Dr Abdul Rani Osman (left) and candidates from Barisan Nasional and Parti Amanah Negara on Nomination day for Sungai Besar.
PAS candidate Dr Abdul Rani Osman (left) and candidates from Barisan Nasional and Parti Amanah Negara on Nomination day for Sungai Besar.PHOTO: THE STAR

In its editorial on June 23, the paper says allowing PAS to expand its political influences unchecked will take the country down the irreversible path of lslamisation.

After the defeat of Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) in the two by-elections in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar, it has now become a key question for the opposition camp to consider in order to avert future three-cornered fights.

While PH previously anticipated that the three-cornered fights would significantly reduce its chances of winning, the final election outcome has substantially and precisely made the opposition pact feel the real impact and threat.

It has become all the clearer now that in many constituencies, the opposition can expect to win only if it faces off with the BN one-on-one. Dilution of votes will be highly unfavourable. if PH, PAS and BN are locked in a three-cornered fight, the one to have the last laugh must be BN.

As a matter of fact, prior to this PKR and PAS fielded their own candidates in some constituencies during the last general elections, allowing BN to bag the windfall from their disagreement.

To avoid three-cornered fights, it is imperative that the opposition parties sit down and talk.

PH and PAS failed in their negotiations on seat allocation before the Sarawak state elections and were both defeated badly in these overlapping seats.

As such, there is no reason for us to be optimistic that they will ever strike an accord before the next general elections. Amanah and PAS, in particular, are difficult to reach an agreement given the similarities in their backgrounds and political philosophies and thus inevitable rivalry.

Politics is an art of possibilities, and it is not absolutely impossible for PH and PAS to reach an agreement at all despite the utter difficulty.

There are no reasons for PAS to give way to Amanah and to fatten this new competitor.

In fact, before getting into any negotiation with PAS, there is one bigger question that needs to be considered: whether PH should go its own way and not engage in any form of cooperation and negotiation with the Islamist party at all.

Loyal to its theocratic aspirations, PAS has on numerous occasions attempted to push ahead its hudud agenda.

Its conservative and outdated ideologies are posing a severe threat to the existence of our secular system and will bog down the country's development.

PH hopes to avoid three-cornered fights based on realistic political consideration to boost its chances of winning.

Seat allocation aside, we must also ponder the impact of PAS' political ecosystem on the country's future.

PAS' theocratic philosophies are posing a severe threat to the country's secular system, and if we reject theocracy, why should we provide any space for this party to continue to survive and even prosper?

In the event three-cornered fights are inevitable, PH must learn to tackle this dilemma calmly instead of allowing PAS to have an opportunity to expand its influences just for the sake of lifting its own winning chances.

Our country cannot be continuously held down by PAS' religious ideologies, and PH must have sufficient courage and faith to break the bondage of PAS.

No doubt PH will lose some of its seats in the event of three-cornered fights.

Nevertheless, if it persists in its effort to support and grow Amanah, it will eventually manage to restrict the development of PAS, forcing the Islamist party to back off to its East Coast fortress.

Losing a few seats is not the end of the game, as we can still recapture them one day. But allowing PAS to expand its political influences unchecked will take us down the irreversible path of lslamization.

Complete severance with PAS is another feasible option to consider other than negotiation.

* Sin Chew Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 21 newspapers.