Possible clean sweep in Kelantan and Terengganu for PAS

UMNO wipe out in Kelantan and Terengganu


There will very likely be a clean sweep by Perikatan Nasional (PN) of all assembly seats in Kelantan and Terengganu, in the coming state elections.

In the 2018 state elections, PAS won 37 seats to the Barisan Nasional’s (BN) 8 seats, in the 45 member state assemble in Kelantan. In Terengganu, PAS won 22 seats to the BN’s 10 seats, in the 32 member state assembly.

However, in the 2022 federal election, PN won 14 out of 14 parliamentary seats in Kelantan, while also making a clean sweep in the 8 parliamentary seats, available in Terengganu.

If voting patterns remain the same as the federal election, PN would most likely win all the available seats Kelantan and Terengganu, routing out UMNO completely in both states. This would mean no other party other than PN’s PAS and Bersatu would have any representation in the east coast states.

Most of UMNO’s seats in Kelantan were won in 2018 on majorities ranging from 359 in Air Lanas, to 1,735 in Galas. Similarly in Terengganu, six UMNO seat majorities range between a 143 vote majority in Kuala Besut, to 1,884 in Seberang Takir. Only Langkap with a 3,446, and Telemung with a 4,159 majority, does UMNO have any chance of holding.

Kelantan and Terengganu are not strong for Bersatu. Thus, it would be assumed the majority of seat allocations in both states will go to PAS. Bersatu will most likely campaign under the PAS flag in some of the UMNO held constituencies. Bersatu would have a token presence in the new assemblies.

UMNO has lost its local champions in Kelantan. UMNO’s Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah narrowly lost to Mohd. Azizi Abu Naim in his long-held seat of Gua Musang, and Mohamed Mustafa (who actually defected to Bersatu) didn’t contest the last election, opting to retire. Thus, senior local UMNO personalities don’t carry much favour to voters anymore.

Local issues wont favour ‘unity government’

The poor water quality in Kelantan has been brought up on news portals over the last few weeks, where PAS has been blamed. Prime minister Anwar Ibrahim has offered federal assistance. Floods every year displace hundreds, and even sometimes thousands of families in both states. The causes of this calamity have not been approached seriously be any government.

However, PAS can come back with arguments, much of the federal funding due to Kelantan and Terengganu, has been channelled through federal agencies, rather than going directly to the states. This has created much anger within communities in Kelantan and Terengganu, that Anwar needs to grapple with.

Anwar forwarded the narrative that it will be the youth of Kelantan and Terengganu who will bring change to the states. Evidence for this shift in the vote votes was put down to the estimated 15,000 visitors to the ‘unity government’ open Raya open house, and some local social media supporting change. However, most of the youth who feel oppressed by the PAS way of governance have long left Kelantan and Terengganu and reside in other parts of Malaysia. The key for Pakatan Harapan is their ability to bring these voters back for the state election to vote. That’s a very optimistic task, even if these masses of reform minded youth existed.

Touching the heart of the Malay heartlands

The coming state elections in Kelantan and Terengganu boil down to being a PAS versus UMNO and Pakatan affair. UMNO is now definitely at the lowest ebb of support ever seen in the two states. The Pakatan message is just not getting through in both states. Amanah, which split from PAS didn’t take with it many supporters with it.

The messages of UMNO and Pakatan is really alien to the electorate. Issues that urban voters are passionate about, the eradication of corruption, abuse of power, and nepotism in government, just don’t resonate. There is a deep failing by UMNO and Pakatan to understand the psych of east coast voters. Thus, the news in daily online news portals is basically irrelevant to them.

Middle class and professional urban voters see PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang’s rhetoric as divisive, and against the pluralism of Malaysian society. However, Hadi’s message about a government based upon Islam works well in the east coast. There are really no counter arguments for Muslims to rebut what Hadi is saying, particularly if you have lived your life in close-knit Muslim communities. To these people this is what the vision of Malaysia should be. Arguing against that vision, will make voters just reject those who carry counter-narratives.

The irony is that Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar created the conditions that brought about the polarization of Malaysian society. The Islamization of the education system, and the civil service, has created politicians like Hadi, who can resonate what Malaysians have been taught.