Pas missteps a double-edged sword for PN?

PAS’ status as a useful component of Perikatan Nasional (PN) has come under question following a series of faux pas and blunders from the party, which some believe may harm the coalition’s chances of emerging triumphant in the 15th General Election (GE15).

(NST) – Analysts believe that while Pas may succeed in appealing to a segment of Malay voters, its missteps on the campaign trail may end up being a double-edged sword for the coalition.

Over the past week, the Islamic party has come under heavy fire for a slew of controversies. These included Pas Sik Youth chief Mohd Shahiful Nasir saying during a ceramah that those who voted for Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) would “go to hell”.

Actor Zul Huzaimy, who has been actively campaigning for Pas, was also caught on camera as saying he wanted to “slaughter kafir harbi (enemies of Islam).”

Dr Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research, said these incidents may end up backfiring on PN, leaving a negative impact on the coalition.

“When I heard that particular statement, I thought it was a clip from 10 or 20 years ago, but surprisingly, it was a clip from the current campaign period.

“The statement will not go down well with (moderate) Muslim or Malay voters and will cause a negative perception among the non-Muslims and non-Malay voters.”

However, the mishaps are not limited to the Pas rank-and-file.

On Monday night, Pas secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan raised eyebrows when he voiced confidence that PN could form a federal government, especially with BN, after GE15.

This, however, ran contrary to previous statements by PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who has adopted a “wait-and-see” approach to any future collaboration.

Muhyiddin, soon after Takiyuddin’s statement, responded by saying he had not given anyone the mandate to hold negotiations with BN for the purpose and that the coalition’s aim was to form a government on its own.

Takiyuddin, hours later, backtracked on his statement and said any coalition formed after GE15 would need to be via a consensus obtained by all parties in PN, not Pas alone.

Azmi said the inconsistent messages had not helped PN’s cause.

“There is already a perception that Pas really wants to work with BN, but Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is the hindrance.

“This is good for BN. It is better for Pas, especially among the grassroots who want to see Muafakat Nasional (BN-Pas partnership) revived. Still, it is the worst-case scenario for PN.”

Prior to GE15, several Pas leaders, including deputy president, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, had announced their intention to discuss a cooperation with Umno involving 27 parliamentary seats, as well as seats in Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Penang.

BN in October, however, rebuffed the overtures.

However, one analyst believes that the negativity surrounding Pas will not have a significant impact on PN’s chances of winning its primary voter base, the rural Malays.

Professor James Chin said it was not PN’s game plan to secure the non-Bumiputera votes, adding that the coalition was not interested in urban seats.

“PN fielded only a few prominent candidates in urban seats such as Datuk Seri Azmin Ali in Gombak.

“The rest of the urban seats were fielded by Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia candidates, who have hardly been campaigning.

“PN knows that it is the Malay votes that will decide the outcome of GE15.”