Malaysia Votes 2018

Unfair to blame party for 3-way fights that split votes: PAS

KUALA LUMPUR • The president of Malaysia's Islamic party, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, said it has been widely blamed for causing three-cornered fights in many seats in the May 9 General Election, a move that analysts say would split the Malay opposition vote and help ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN).

Datuk Seri Hadi said Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) had to be independent in the polls as it refuses to be used again as a ladder for other parties to achieve their goals.

The opposition PAS was a member of BN in the 1970s and a member of several opposition pacts in the past. From PAS' point of view, it was abused by the other parties.

"Everyone puts PAS as the third party in the fight, and one that sits at the bottom and gets the blame," Mr Hadi wrote in party organ Harakah on Sunday. "They are not sensitive to the fact that PAS and Islam can be successful on our own and not a ladder to be stepped on for people to get what they want."

PAS surprised many people by putting up candidates in 158 Parliament seats for the May 9 polls. This is the highest number of parliamentary seats it has ever contested, and more than the 120 put up by Umno, traditionally the party that fields the most candidates. Multi-cornered fights will take place for 192 of the total 222 parliamentary seats.

PAS has strong grassroots support among Malay Muslims, which the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition alliance fears would split the opposition vote in three-cornered fights involving BN.

This was seen in two by-elections in June 2016 featuring BN, PAS and a PH party. BN won with massive majorities in both the Sungai Besar (Selangor) and Kuala Kangsar (Perak) seats as the opposition vote was split two ways.

In the 2013 polls, PAS fielded 73 parliamentary candidates and won 21 seats - a 29 per cent success rate.

PAS joined BN in 1973 following deadly race riots in 1969 as part of a grand alliance. But the Islamic party was sacked from BN in 1977 after disputes regarding Kelantan state.

PAS in the 1990s and 2000s joined several opposition alliances, the last being Pakatan Rakyat, which was disbanded in 2015.

Mr Hadi has said PAS hopes to win 40 Parliament seats in the coming polls and become a kingmaker to either BN, led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, or the four-party PH led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2018, with the headline 'Unfair to blame party for 3-way fights that split votes: PAS'. Print Edition | Subscribe