Malaysia's Parti Islam aims high, saying it wants to win control of parliament

Parti Islam SeMalaysia president Abdul Hadi Awang (pictured) said his party aims to win a simple majority in parliament at the upcoming general election.
Parti Islam SeMalaysia president Abdul Hadi Awang (pictured) said his party aims to win a simple majority in parliament at the upcoming general election.PHOTO: THE STAR

SHAH ALAM - Malaysia's Islamist party PAS, whose best electoral performance was winning 27 parliament seats in 1999 at the height of Reformasi anger, said it aims to win a simple majority of 112 seats at the upcoming polls.

The ambitious declaration by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang on Sunday (Jan 21) is an apparent hardening of its go-alone stance after abandoning the other big opposition parties in 2015.

Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) has 13 seats in Parliament today.

It had previously said it was hoping to win 40 seats and become kingmaker in the tussle between the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH).

And Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi on Sunday dismissed suggestions that PAS has an electoral pact with Prime Minister Najib Razak's Umno party. He says the two parties only work together on Islamic matters such as the Rohingyas of Myanmar or the Palestine issue.

Mr Hadi said PAS will contest in more than 130 federal Parliament seats, as head of the Gagasan Sejahtera (Group of Harmony) alliance with the smaller opposition groups.

"We are aiming for more than 130 parliamentary seats so that we can win with a simple majority," Mr Hadi told reporters after a party function in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor state.

"We either want to form the government, or we want to join the government that is formed," he added, as quoted by The Malaysian Insight news site.

A party or coalition must win a minimum 112 seats to control the 222-ward parliament in South-east Asia's third biggest economy.

PAS has huge obstacles in achieving its ambitious plans.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition led by Datuk Seri Najib's Umno, has won all the 13 general elections since independence.

BN has 132 seats in Parliament and PAS just 13.

The four-party PH opposition alliance has 71.

Two of the remaining Parliament seats are in the hands of opposition Parti Warisan Sabah, and four held by independent MPs.

The Gagasan Sejahtera members include Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia, Barisan Jemaah Islamiah SeMalaysia, Parti Cinta Malaysia and Parti Harapan Malaysia. None of them has any seat in the federal or state legislatures.

PAS won the most number of parliament seats in 1999 when Malay-voter anger was at its peak against the government following the 1998 sacking of then-deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. It won 27 seats.

The Islamist party won 23 seats in 2008 and 21 in 2013, when it was part of an opposition alliance that it has since abandoned.

The PAS control of 21 seats has whittled down to 13 after it lost eight seats to defections.