By Tay Tian Yan
A few days ago, PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad said his party was prepared to contest 80 parliamentary seats in the next general election (GE14), more than the 73 seats it contested in the last general election (GE13).
Of course, PAS is brimming with confidence now, especially after party president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill was tabled at the Dewan Rakyat last week.
It is no longer a big issue now whether the private member’s bill eventually gets adopted.
The point is, PAS can now tell the world it has pushed the Islamic agenda one big step forward that even Umno has to bow to its demands and go according to its plans.
PAS is standing tall in front of Muslim voters. This is all it wants, its future.
Hadi’s position in the party is getting more solid, having already won unchallenged in the upcoming party elections. His party will continue to stick to his roadmap, including a tie-up with Umno.
So, contesting more seats goes perfectly with the Islamist party’s development logic.
Moreover, without the restriction of being part of an oppostion pact, such as the now defunct Pakatan Rakyat, it doesn’t have to bother about seat allocation with any of its former allies. It will decide on its own how many seats it wants to contest in.
But, does the party have what it takes at this stage? Will Umno just sit back and wait for the party to come and grab its share?
PAS’ 21 parliamentary seats out of the 73 contested in GE13 was not a very good showing indeed. Umno, its archrival then, captured 88, mostly from its triumph over PAS candidates.
It doesn’t really matter how these two parties are going for a tie-up, they will remain very much rivals in GE14, and will very likely go head-to-head in the Malay heartland.
It’s going to be a zero sum game. Where Umno wins, PAS will lose, and vice versa.
If PAS wants to win more seats, it will have to dig into Umno’s strongholds. The Islamist party is unlikely to make any breakthrough in DAP’s Chinese constituencies nor PKR’s mixed constituencies.
Moreover, it managed to get 21 parliamentary and 85 state seats largely due to Pakatan Rakyat’s one-on-one fights with Barisan Nasional (BN) and undivided support from Pakatan’s fans, especially Chinese voters.
That was Pakatan’s election formula: tackling BN under a united opposition front.
In the absence of such a formula in GE14, PAS will have to go solo and fight the giants alone.
It is expected to lose the votes of many non-Muslim voters, especially in Selangor and Perak.
Moreover, multi-cornered fights are inevitable in the coming elections. While confronting Umno, PAS will also need to face the threat from Amanah, PKR or Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).
In the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections last year, when multi-cornered fights happened in predominantly Malay constituencies, the opposition’s chances were remarkably diluted, doing Umno-BN a huge favour.
If Amanah is able to steal some of the votes, PAS could even lose Kelantan to Umno.
Thanks to such a formula, even if the Malay people are unhappy with Umno and Najib, the outcome is not going to be any different despite the “Malay tsunami” prophecy.
Umno is doing everything it can to please PAS – including full coordination over Hadi’s private member’s bill – all because of one single purpose: to ensure this formula stays relevant.
Hadi is no rival to Umno in terms of politicking. Perhaps his religious agenda far exceeds his political calculations.
Tay Tian Yan writes for Sin Chew Daily.
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