Snap polls needed for political stability, says PAS

PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malays must secure a dominant position in new national elections to ensure political stability in the country, an Islamist party leader who is also a senior figure within the ruling coalition said on Wednesday.

Malaysia has faced political uncertainty since then-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigned in February and a new government was formed with a razor-thin majority in parliament.

Mahathir was replaced by Muhyiddin Yassin, once his close associate, with the backing of PPBM and two others representing Malays – the scandal-tainted Umno and PAS.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said fresh polls were needed to increase Malay representation in parliament and legitimise the ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition’s claim to power.

“To ensure political stability, it is important to have the race that dominates society lead the government,” Hadi said in an interview.

Ethnic Malays, who are predominantly Muslim, make up about 60% of the population of 32 million, with the rest mostly ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indians.

PAS has for decades pushed to establish an Islamic state in Malaysia, at times seeking harsher penalties on Muslims for crimes such as adultery and consuming alcohol under Islamic law.

“Areas that are majority Muslim should be represented by Muslims, and likewise areas that are majority non-Muslim should be represented by non-Muslims,” said Hadi.

Muhyiddin’s coalition narrowly won a vote to replace the lower house speaker, but then suffered a setback when Umno declared it would support the government but withdraw from the coalition after its former leader Najib Razak was sentenced to jail over the 1MDB scandal.

Hadi said coalition parties would continue backing Muhyiddin’s leadership and nominate him as their prime ministerial candidate in a new election.

“If you mix the support for PAS, Umno and Bersatu, there are many seats that we can win. We may be able to win a two-thirds majority,” said Hadi, predicting polls would take place sometime between the end of this year and early 2021.