PAS has done no favours for PN partners, say analysts

Analysts see PAS risking its relationship with its coalition partners after its stand on the unilateral conversion of children and its proposal for the prime minister’s post to be reserved for Muslims.

(FMT) – Council of Professors fellow Jeniri Amir said the party was causing discomfort to its non-Muslim partners in Perikatan Nasional (PN), namely Gerakan, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR).

However, he said it was unclear how non-Muslim voters would react because nothing was certain yet about PAS’ political alignments for the 15th general election.

“It all depends on who PAS aligns itself with at GE15,” he told FMT.

“If it’s still with PN, non-Muslim supporters of the coalition would not want to go out to vote as a sign of protest. And we can see how low voter turnouts in previous elections have benefitted Barisan Nasional.”

On Tuesday, PAS information chief Khairil Nizam Khirudin issued a warning against anyone trying to nullify the conversion of single mother Loh Siew Hong’s three children.

This was after Loh filed an application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court for leave to seek a declaration that her former husband was legally unfit to convert the children to Islam.

Last week, Khairil suggested that a constitutional amendment be put in place to reserve the post of prime minister for Muslims only.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) lecturer Lee Kuok Tiung said that although Gerakan, SAPP and STAR had always portrayed themselves as multiracial and multicultural parties, being aligned with PAS had dented this image.

“And PAS’ statements will only repel their supporters,” he said.

“Voters may still support Gerakan, SAPP or STAR, but during GE15, they may be reluctant to vote for those who collaborate with PAS.”

Another analyst, Akademi Nusantara fellow Azmi Hassan, said PAS supporters would appreciate the party’s strong stand on the two issues, but he told FMT he felt that there were more important matters it should focus on.

He said PAS’ presence in PN had not added value to the coalition politically, pointing to the party’s poor showing in the Melaka and Johor state elections as evidence.

“I think these two issues will be of minimum inconvenience to Gerakan, STAR and other allies that are inside PN,” he said.

“But I would say that it would create more trouble for Bersatu as it needs to answer to PAS’ stance on the issues.”