PAS did not defend Bersatu when its renegade members chose to support the Unity Government. In the mind of PAS leaders, this was not unexpected; after all, Bersatu is a party built by defectors. The marginalisation of Bersatu in the SG4 executive councils is a signal of PAS’ intent of building internal strength instead of relying on partners to deliver their part.
AN UPHILL BATTLE
Apart from these focus areas, PAS will likely continue to deepen its community roots like it has always done in the northeast of West Malaysia. The only difference is that it would focus on projecting an urban and modern image, such as setting up a “super app” with functions such as an e-wallet.
It remains an uphill battle for PAS. The SG4 are among the poorest states in Malaysia, with the lowest household income and highest poverty incidence.
Kelantan and its water woes for the past few years were a clear standout. At the party congress, the Kelantan chief minister, Mohd Nassuruddin Daud, struggled to cite good examples of PAS’ governing success, besides providing interest-free loans for cheap housing.
At the same time, PAS’ insular thinking about non-Malays would likely yield little returns. The Nik Aziz slogan of “PAS For All” still rings hollow under Abdul Hadi’s leadership, which is defined by the dangerous amplification of racial rhetoric.
It would be a mistake to assume that PAS’ strategy could work in the short term, but it would be a bigger mistake to assume that PAS is not placing bets on the long term. After all, without long-term thinking, it would not have survived a half-century in opposition and ended up where it is today.
James Chai is a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute and a columnist for MalaysiaKini and Sin Chew Daily. This commentary first appeared on the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute’s blog, Fulcrum.
Source: Channel News Asia