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PAS badly needs to rebuild its image

 | September 27, 2014

There are indications that the party is losing much support from the Chinese, Indians and moderate Malays.

COMMENT

pas supportters.jpgPAS may want to shrug off its defeat in Pengkalan Kubor with the excuse that it’s an Umno seat anyway. But the fact is that it lost by a bigger margin on a lower voter turnout compared to last year’s general election.

The party should, in particular, take note of a remark made recently by Mazlan Aliman, a PAS member who is active in championing Felda settler rights. He said PAS was beginning to give the impression that it was a talk-only-no-action party.

He reasoned that this could be because the party had been distracted by the Selangor MB crisis. With the crisis now over, he urged PAS to move forward and start re-focusing on issues of real concern to the public, like the GST.

PAS Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat concurred, saying the party had wasted too much time on another party’s problem. Like Mazlan, he called on PAS to go back to championing worthy causes.

PAS certainly needs to restore its image, which has been battered badly by the sometimes contradictory positions it took during the MB crisis.

If the talk in social media is any indication, a number of Chinese and Indians have abandoned PAS. Those claiming that they voted for the party in the last general election have vowed to withdraw their support.

Some netizens have remarked that it would be better for PAS to quit Pakatan Rakyat or for PKR and DAP to kick it out of the coalition, but they are apparently ignoring the fact that Pakatan still needs PAS to pull in the rural Malay votes.

PAS must realise too that nowadays a large number of people follow its muktamar, unlike in the 1980s and 1990s, when very few non-members even knew that a muktamar was going on.

These days, many voters know the names of the PAS leaders and who are the moderates and who are conservatives. PAS leaders thus cannot act as if they are insulated from the general public because their speeches will go viral if they were to say or do something wrong.

PAS ignores the power of social media at its own peril. And if the ulamas continue to be inward-looking, we’ll be hearing the death knell for the party soon enough.

There is still some time before the next general election. Will PAS be able to regain the trust of the moderate Malays and the Chinese and Indian voters, many of whom supported it in 2008 and 2013? PAS badly needs these votes.

Selena Tay is an FMT columnist.

 

 


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