Umno smiles as PAS grapples with moral policing issue

The stability of support for Kelantan PAS is under threat.

Hawkeye, FMT

KOTA BARU: Recent indications of PAS’ indecisiveness in handling the issue of moral policing has boosted Umno’s confidence in improving its electoral performance in Kelantan.

It is learnt that PAS supporters are deeply divided over the issue. One side feels that PAS should defend the application of syariah-inspired by-laws on non-Muslims. The other side calls for a reprimand, if not punishment, of local authorities for their excess of zeal at the expense of support from non-Muslim voters.

The issue’s potential to threaten the stability of support for Kelantan PAS is best summed up by businessman Hussein Ahmad, who operates a string of kopitiam outlets here.

Alluding to the claim by Kelantanese that their state is the cradle of Malay culture, he said: “The cradle is rocking too hard, and the baby is wailing.”

He believes PAS’ indecisiveness over the issue of moral policing is inevitable given the factionalism within the state administration that has been apparent to some political observers for some time.

He believes too that this is all brought about by the twin factors of Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat’s declining health and his deputy Ahmad Yakcob’s lack of talent for administration.

Political sources have said that PAS’ top leaders want Nik Aziz to remain as Menteri Besar despite his offer to resign. They see him as an indispensable asset for political support because he commands deep respect across the political and racial spectrums.

They want him to continue leading Kelantan while they work out a succession plan, which is a difficult task given the factionalism in PAS, at least at the state level.

This is all good news, of course, to Umno, which has recently been waxing optimistic about its electoral chances in Kelantan.

Umno currently occupies only six of the 45 seats in the Kelantan legislature. Umno Kelantan treasurer Hanafi Mamat says his party is now confident of winning 25 seats in the coming election and that Barisan Nasional may even be able to deny Pakatan Rakyat its two-third majority in the state.

Economic changes

“We’re not over-confident, though,” he told FMT, but he added that young voters in the state were increasingly showing they wanted changes, especially in the economic sphere.

“The young generation is keen to know about job creation, economic management and the way forward.

“The issue of corruption may not be a big issue here as the people here are a pious lot and would not cave-in to such sinful acts.

“The new support for Umno may not be enough to enable BN to take the state from PAS, but is significant compared to 2008.”