ISLAMIST party PAS has refuted allegations that it is intent on being “spoilers” in Selangor in the 14th general election, asserting that ruling party Umno will continue to be its main adversary.
The party has been criticised by Pakatan Harapan leaders for its insistence on fielding candidates in seats where the opposition pact aims to challenge Umno. PAS’ presence, according to its critics, will create three-cornered fights which many fear will benefit to Umno.
However, Selangor PAS election director Roslan Shahir Mohd Shahir said the party has traditionally challenged all seats fielding Umno candidates, and it would not stop now.
“PAS has never shied away from a fight against Umno. How can we be called spoilers now? We have never held back from challenging Umno,” Roslan told The Malaysian Insight.
“It (PH) releases such statements to imply that PAS is working with Umno. But until this very second, there is no form of cooperation to be seen.”
Since deciding not to join PH and forming a separate coalition, Gagasan Sejahtera, PAS has been accused of trying to split opposition votes to hand victory over to Barisan Nasional.
However, Roslan said it should not be assumed that BN will be the winner in a three-cornered fight.
“For example, if we look at the Sijangkang state seat, we have contested that seat for a long time.
“The last time PAS stood there was before the formation of Pakatan Rakyat, and Dr Yunus Hairi only lost by a few hundred votes. This is proof that PAS does have the support,” said the party deputy information chief.
Roslan said the true spoilers are the late-comers standing in seats in which PAS traditionally contests.
“When other parties come in, it becomes three-cornered fights and that is actually what is spoiling our chances of defeating Umno.
“I don’t think that the new party will win. So, when it does that, it benefits BN.”
According to Roslan, a segment of Malay voters who were fence-sitters moved from voting for Umno to supporting PAS in the 2008 and 2013 general elections.
“Normally, 30% of Malay votes will go to PAS, 35% to 40% will vote Umno.
“The fence-sitters are another segment who are ready to vote for PAS, but when they see PAS involved with DAP, they will no longer vote for PAS,” he said.
Roslan said PAS will not forge a pact with Umno in politics, but will work together in issues related to Islam and Malay rights.
“These past two to three years, we have been working together on issues that involve the interests of Malays and Islam.
“For example, in the case of the Rohingya, and before that, when the PAS president was invited for the Multaqa Al-Azhar programme. We attended because it involves the interests of Malay-Islam.
“I note that before this, non-Malay parties, such as Chinese-majority parties like DAP and MCA, can be united on issues involving the interests of their communities, such as the issue of schooling and so on. So, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Amanah not a threat
Roslan also said the break-up in PAS resulting in the formation of Amanah in 2015 has not adversely affected the party.
“After almost three years, the support for Amanah is not high enough to replace PAS.
“In fact, in certain areas in Selangor, you don’t see their presence and strength at all,” he said, adding that PAS continues to receive new members.
“After Amanah was formed, PAS is still functioning as before, in fact in terms of membership, according to the latest central meeting, from January to September this year, there’s an average of 125 new members every day from around the country.
“This is a big number compared with last year. By right, with the formation of Amanah, if it aims to replace PAS, it should be reducing the number of new memberships in our party.”
He said Amanah’s failure to pose a challenge to PAS is because of the lukewarm grassroots support.
“Maybe they are relying on some of their leaders, but traditionally, for a Malay-Muslim party, we need to depend on the strength of the grassroots.
“We can’t equate Malay-Muslim parties with DAP, for example. DAP is more towards leadership, they don’t need grassroots.
“But historically, Malay-Muslim parties without strong grassroots support face a bleak future.”