Pas untiringly claims to be a party that represents Islam. Pas cannot accept the fact that Umno, Amanah and other Malay-dominated parties in the country too represent Islam. There are Muslim members in DAP, MIC, MCA and other political parties and NGOs; they profess the religion of Islam. Islam as a religion cannot be the monopoly of any single political party. This, Pas has failed to ingest.

Pas has failed to sway the people’s mind that the party has exclusive Islamic credentials that other political parties do not have. Sadly, Pas after 60 years of its existence in the Malaysian political landscape is still groping in the dark kicking hard to find a “holier than thou” political identity to convince the voters.

With the past and present run-of-the-mill leadership the party has depended on other secular-based political parties to make a dent in the national political landscape.

In the history of Pas going solo in elections the party has never made any political impact in all Malaysian states, except in Kelantan. Pas could get a few seats in Malay-dominated Terengganu or Kedah but the party is still a let-down as far as national politics is concerned.

Pas has failed in their solo ventures

In Selangor they had glumly failed with their solo ventures in the past elections. In Kedah they only managed to score a seat or two. In Perak they were at one time a non-entity. Forget about all the other states in the country. Pas has never made it big without the help of other opposition parties. With not much success, Pas has nothing to be proud of its stature as a seasoned political party.

Be it as it may, Pas’ arch rival has always been Umno since Independence, not DAP.  But Umno with its moderate stance in religion, being a nationalistic party for the Malays and is willing to co-operate with other non-Malay parties has endeared itself more to the masses.

Pas on the other hand with its religious stance – at times going to extremities and exclusiveness – has failed to convince the moderate Malays and the non-Malays. In 1981, a Pas leader came up with a furious Amanat  (Decree) labelling those who do not vouch for PAS way of politics as “kafir” (infidel or unbeliever) and this only showed how punishing the party became under an impudent leadership.   

The “takfir” culture – accusing another Muslim of apostasy – then started to rear its ugly head. This became the political tirade then between Pas and Umno splitting the Malays along intra-religious lines.

The non-Muslims were often brashly labelled as “kafir”. Some dim-witted Pas leaders would have thought that with such approach it could bring in more Malay-Muslim support for the party but it has failed hopelessly. Moderate Malays would never insolently use the term “kafir” to define the non-Muslims, as the latter also believe in God.  

Chaos and violence has brought fear to Malaysians in general

Observing the instability, chaos and violence in many Muslim-ruled states in the outside world has brought much fear to Malaysians in general. Muslim or non-Muslim, the general consensus among Malaysians is that they want peace and unity, never mind which party leads the nation as long as it is not corrupt and crooked, honours the mandate given by the people and it is not Taliban-like politics that would instil fear in the people or triggers itself into fanaticism and barbarity.


For this reason, Pas has not succeeded in becoming an alternative to Umno or Barisan since Independence. Pas leaders are too emotional that they have failed to understand the intrinsic inclusive message of Islam – ‘rahmat al il alamin’ (mercy to the universe and mankind) when God refers to the Prophet and his role in the Quran.

But some Pas leaders are still ‘building castles in the air’ thinking that their ambitious plan of turning the country into an Islamic State with hudud implemented would get electorate vote them into power. If truth be told, miscarried Pas has to reform to stay germane in the country’s political landscape. Their off beamed approach to politics, being emotional at times, skewed and exploiting on religion has failed the party and also blotted the image of Islam.  

All along Pas has always become a confused political party or as some define it as a “neither here nor there” political party. This is due to some leaders that they have who are not ingenious enough and are fuzzy in their vision for the party.  

Pas has the habit of expending religion to reap support from the masses. If Islam is their agenda, then Umno certainly has done more to safe-guard Islam for the country than Pas. Even Penang under the DAP chief minister has done more to uplift the image of Islam in the state than what Kelantan has done to the state under Pas rule for the past many years.

If Islamic laws are Pas’ only concern then Umno and Barisan have done more to bring stability to the country with the Common laws for all Malaysians, as well as enhancing the Syariah laws within its admissible scope at the state levels, compared to most Muslim countries that opt for theological laws and are in complete disarray today.

Creeping in and out of political alliances

To stay relevant, erratic Pas has been creeping in and out of political alliances for the past years.

PAS began as a side-party of religious Umno members. The party was mainly led through the late 50s up till 1969 along a socialist Islamist path. The racial riots of May 13, 1969 showed that the Malays were weak and leaders called for a unity among them. This brought PAS into the Alliance but quite a number of senior PAS members quit the party in protest, and some were purged by Pas’ leader then.

Senior members of PAS were given portfolios in the Cabinet but it was a short-lived affair. There has never been any chemistry between PAS and Umno as one party will attempt to outdo the other party.  

PAS left Barisan in December 1977, signalling the end of the alliance between them. Elections were then called in 1978, barely half a year after PAS split from Barisan. PAS with its soiled reputation won just 5 parliamentary seats, with 2 of them in Kelantan.

Kelantan was under Umno rule until there was a power struggle within Umno in 1987 where a splinter party was formed by a sore loser to take on Umno Baru. The party was named Semangat 46. A few Umno stalwarts joined the party. The party was formed in 1988, and dissolved in 1996.

In 1990, Semangat 46 formed two coalitions with other opposition parties to contest the 1990 general election. The Gagasan Rakyat coalition was with the multi-racial DAP and Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM). The Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah coalition (APU) was with the Muslim parties PAS, BERJASA, HAMIM and the newly formed Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (KIMMA).

Despite these alliances, Semangat 46 did poorly in the 1990 federal election, winning only 8 of 180 seats. However, the Angkatan alliance swept the state election in Kelantan, winning all 39 seats. Semangat 46 won 15, PAS won 24. For the first time in UMNO history, the party failed to win any seats in a state level.

Weakening of Pas

The demise of Semangat 46 saw the weakening of PAS in Kelantan though the party has managed to rule the state until the present day.

Pas was again into another coalition, The Barisan Alternatif (BA) – a coalition of Malaysian opposition parties, formed as a counterweight to the ruling Barisan.

The spur for the BA’s formation was in 1998 arrest and subsequent conviction of former UMNO politician Anwar Ibrahim. In 1999, the four largest opposition parties— PAS, DAP, PKR and the Malaysian People’s Party (MPP) announced an electoral alliance and issued a joint manifesto.

In the 1999 general elections, the BA cooperated to contest only one candidate in each constituency. The big winner was PAS, which captured the states of Kelantan and Terengganu and increased its parliamentary seats from 7 to 27. In Terengganu the party president was made the menteri besar. Unfortunately his mediocre leadership led to the party downfall after one term.

Pas Terengganu fell to Umno in the 2003 general election. Pas managed to retain only 7 of its 27 seats. PAS at that time ran on a platform promising an Islamic nation. The party was disappointed that its party leader lost his parliamentary seat as well as his menteri besar post.

Pas shamelessly crept into another coalition in 2008. It was The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) – an informal opposition political coalition and successor to BA. The political coalition was formed by PKR, DAP and PAS after the 12th general election.  

PR was then formed based on a common manifesto and PAS came up with the convincing slogans – ‘PAS for ALL’ and ‘Towards a Welfare State’. These slogans and PAS’ inclusiveness, supposedly, were inspiring enough for the party to win the non-Muslim votes.

Never too late to make over

To Pas leaders then hudud was never an issue. This aided the party to get support from the non-Malays and moderate Malays. In the 2008 general election, thanks to Umno’s weak leadership at the time, Pas working with PKR and DAP managed to win additional states besides Kelantan  – Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Perak, and increase the number of state and parliamentary seats.

Kedah under Pas, however, fell to Umno in the 2013 general election due to another run-of-the-mill kind of leadership in the state.

Presently, after the 2013 general election Pas has 13 state seats in the Selangor state Assembly and considerable number of seats in Terengganu, Kedah and Perak – all due to close co-operation among the Opposition parties.

The people who voted for PAS were non-Muslims and Malay Muslims. In all probability, Umno supporters did not vote for PAS. But if Pas now sense that it should work with Umno to topple the present state government of Selangor where Pas is at present an integral part of it, the party is making a huge slip-up.

The party will then be designated by the electorate as being undependable and oublieuse. Pas will lose non-Muslim support and also the support of moderate Malays for being thankless and will be hooped as a self-seeking and opportunistic political party.

Being an Islamic party and being well informed on what real Islamic outreach should be, Pas’ present stand in abhorring DAP and Amanah (the party formed by former Pas members in 2015) is totally immoral and unIslamic. Settling of scores or vengeance is not the schooling of Islam. Forgiving someone, and being able to reunite, is a fight against the ego. This is obviously a basic precept of Islam which some Pas leaders are ignorant of.  

And accentuating that only a Muslim should be voted in to become leaders and often impudently defining and degrading non-Muslims as “kafir” will not make Pas thrive in Selangor and many other states with significant number of non-Muslims and educated Malays.

Sorry for Pas that is seen by voters as of two minds and shilly-shallying. Either the party reforms itself or else it will be the end loser and become like the Dodo bird. No right-minded peace-loving Malaysians would want a party that keeps on dithering like the present inveterate Pas under its present leadership to rule the country.

It’s never too late to make over, though.

Moaz Nair