PAS could gain from Umno’s fall


In the battle between Mahathir and Najib, could the Islamist party come out the winner?

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today

Malaysians have been looking on intently as the battle between Mahathir and Najib slowly comes to a boiling point. The unpopular Prime Minister could be on his way out very soon, but if he chooses to tough it out and stay, the party will be fractured, with two factions battling it out for dominance. This is the worst-case scenario for Umno as the man on the street will likely become disenchanted with the party.

Even within Umno itself, dissent against Najib is getting stronger. We’re hearing whispers that there’s a faction within Umno Youth that is opposed to the Prime Minister. Certainly, he has proved himself out of touch with the grassroots of the party and the man on the street, and with no end to the conflict in sight, one could say it is imperative that the Malay community find a new party to champion them.

And that’s where PAS comes into the picture.

PAS is the second largest Malay party in Malaysia, and in the event of Umno becoming embroiled in its own internal conflict, PAS will step in to fill the void. The Islamist party has proven effective at communicating with heartland communities, and it has a strong network in place throughout the country, ready to seize the moment and crown itself the new champion of Malay Muslims.

The traditional values of PAS are also more likely to be appealing to the community, especially the large section that resides in the more rural areas of the country. Some may argue that PKR could come out on top, but the cosmopolitan party is not seen as a party that resounds with the values of the heartland, where the politics of race and religion reign supreme over more modern issues like human rights and equality.