Supporters Congress is PAS’ third bid to reach out to non-Muslims 

(The Star) – The PAS Supporters Congress is the party’s third attempt in as many decades to establish a mechanism to woo non-Muslims.

Prior to the establishment of the Congress, PAS in the 1980s established a Chinese Consultative Council, followed by an Inter-Racial Department in the late 1990s.

Both attempts failed to stir the interest of many non-Muslims, leading PAS decided to set up a supporters club instead.

Party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang announced on the eve of the 2004 general election the establishment of the PAS Supporters Club.

With the slogan “PAS for all”, the club started by conducting dialogue sessions with non-Muslims and focused on reaching out to the Chinese, Indian and Siamese communities.

In the 2008 general election, PAS fielded its first non-Muslim candidate drawn from the club, R. Kumutha.

Contesting the Tiram State Assembly seat in Johor Baru, Kumutha lost to Barisan Nasional’s Maulizan Bujang.

In 2010, the club expanded into a Congress through an amendment to the party constitution and was renamed the PAS Supporters Congress.

The move was supposed to be given the Congress equal standing to the party’s three other wings, namely its Youth, Muslimat (Women’s) and Ulama movements.

However, although the Congress was empowered to send delegates to represent it at the PAS annual meeting or muktamar, its members are not allowed to vote in party elections, unlike those belonging to the other three wings.

The party has since said that it would consider fielding more non-Muslim candidates in the next general election.