Sarawak PAS has been almost dormant since Pakatan Rakyat was disbanded due to the open conflict between the Islamist party and DAP.
For the past three years or so, Sarawakians have not heard much from the party’s leaders and members.
Only its Miri branch issues press statements from time to time, and most of the issues raised are local.
Suddenly, we heard that PAS will be fielding candidates in five parliamentary seats this election: Petra Jaya, Kota Samarahan, Batang Sadong, Batang Lupar and Sibuti. What’s more, the party is ambitious: it is going after the big names in Sarawak.
The incumbents in Petra Jaya, Batang Sadong and Batang Lupar are federal ministers Fadillah Yusof, Nancy Shukri and Rohani Abdul Karim.
They will be challenged by PAS candidates Hamdan Sani (Petra Jaya), Asan Singkro (Batang Sadong), and Wan Abdullah Wan Ahmad (Batang Lupar).
The two other PAS candidates are Zulkiflee Ramzi (Kota Samarahan) and Zulaihi Bakar (Sibuti).
Most of the candidates are reportedly entrepreneurs, whose names were unheard of until now.
It is fair to say that even PKR, which is more established in Sarawak than PAS, would have difficulty in these five seats despite also being a component party of Pakatan Harapan.
The chances of unseating the PBB incumbents are almost zero. PBB, the backbone of Sarawak Barisan Nasional, has never been defeated in these five seats.
So where does PAS stand in the scheme of things?
Its president Abdul Hadi Awang’s statement on the decision to field candidates in those areas is also confusing.
“The decision was made out of respect for the reality in Sarawak. There are many Bumiputera non-Muslims who still do not know about the Islamic concept, and the number of Muslims is as such (not many).
“So we are fielding candidates according to the number of Muslims (in the state). We want to introduce mature politics,” he said after the announcement.
Many are unsure what the PAS president was trying to explain. The five seats chosen by his party also have a good mix of non-Muslims.
Perhaps Hadi is still unfamiliar with one “reality” in Sarawak: Malays and Muslims in the state are totally different from those in Malaya. There are no extremists and bigots among Sarawak Muslims, unlike in the peninsula.
Politicians in Sarawak hardly bring up religious issues, even during fierce electoral campaigns. It is an unwritten no-no in Sarawak politics.
Here’s another thing for PAS to consider: five candidates need RM50,000 as election deposits. Perhaps the party should consider spending the money on scholarships for needy students instead.
When you have zero chance of winning, why waste your time and resources?
Over to PAS.
KS Paul is an FMT columnist.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.