A Penang PAS branch chief opined that DAP lacks an understanding of Islam and if it is to allay local Malay fears, it must give PAS greater leeway.
GEORGE TOWN: There is no need for Penang DAP to field Malay candidates in the next general election, says a PAS grassroots leader.
Instead, DAP should focus on ensuring that it can help its alliance partners, PAS and PKR, to achieve resounding victories in the election, former state PAS Youth chief Mohamed Hafiz Nordin said.
Hafiz, who is now a party branch head in Butterworth, said PAS has the capabilities and electoral support to represent the Malay and Muslim interests in Penang.
“It is just that the PAS grassroots feel they are overlooked here as the party only secured one out of the five seats it had contested.”
He was responding to statements by state DAP committee member Zulkifli Mohd Noor that the Malays should stand on the socialist party’s ticket in view of the fact that PAS and PKR are perceived by many quarters to be politically weak in Penang.
Zulkifli’s statement was echoed by a civil group, the Penang Malay Congress president Rahmad Isahak, who stressed that the best way for more Malay voices to be heard in the state administrative matters, was through DAP, as the others lacked credibility here.
This was also in view of the fact that Umno through Barisan Nasional has consolidated its hold on the Malay support here.
According to Rahmad, the political dimension of the Malays here, particularly on the island, differs from other parts of the country.
On the island, the Malays generally perceived themselves to be isolated due to the current socio-economic conditions where they are struggling to cope with rising living costs, brought on by expensive housing and a limit on quality jobs, Rahmad claimed.
Such a perception was also based on the fact that the present state government only has two Malay representatives, while the Malay population number is just slightly behind the Chinese, Rahmad said.
Lack of respect
To this, Hafiz said the conditions can be changed if PAS was given leeway to contribute in the state.
“The one state executive councillor’s post or religious portfolio was not accorded to the party. It shows a lack of respect.
“DAP should allow PAS to handle religious matters, as the present arrangement is not working out well due to the lack of attention and expertise by the present state exco member (Abdul Malik Abul Kassim).”
Pakatan Rakyat has 29 seats in Penang versus Umno’s (BN) 11, of which DAP has 19, PKR nine and PAS one.
In the last election, DAP contested 19 and won all while PAS only won one out of the five it contested and PKR secured nine out of 16.