PAS can never come to power on its own, says Dr M

The ex-prime minister says for the Islamic party to form a government, it needs to work with non-Malays and Malays who are not party members or traditional supporters.

(FMT) – The Islamic party PAS will never be able to form the federal government on its own, given its limited popularity, says former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said PAS was capable only of winning votes in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis. “That’s not enough,” said Mahathir, who is an unofficial adviser to the four PAS-led state governments.

Speaking in a special interview with FMT, Mahathir said PAS had won more than 40 parliamentary seats at the 2022 general election but “that is not enough to become the government”.

“They must work with others. If PAS wants to be the government, it has to find about 80 more seats to make up 112 (for a simple majority in the Dewan Rakyat). These 80 seats will come from the west coast (of the peninsula) and west coast people are not PAS supporters,” he said.

“So PAS, by itself, cannot rule the country. It has to work with non-Malays and Malays who are not PAS members (or supporters).”

Mahathir said PAS would struggle to secure a majority of the seats in the lower house despite Umno’s loss of support among Malay voters, and Bersatu’s numerous problems, including corruption cases and defections.

In the current Parliament, PAS (43 seats) and Bersatu (25 seats) form the opposition, while the government is formed by a coalition of Pakatan Harapan, Barisan Nasional and East Malaysia parties who control 153 seats.

On Umno, which he led for 22 years until 2003, Mahathir said the party had been “corrupted” by Najib Razak and that those who are still in the party are there “because of the money”.

“They find that if you become an elected representative, you can get an income but not only that, you get business opportunities. We find them making money for themselves, not running the government,” he said.

Najib, who became the Umno president in 2009, is serving a 12-year jail sentence on corruption charges linked to the 1MDB financial scandal. The sentence has since been halved to six years.

Malaysia just needs growth, not a new ‘vision’

Mahathir, who in 1991 launched a 30-year national plan known as Vision 2020, said the country is not in need of a new “vision”.

“Just try and grow the country,” he said, noting that Malaysia had failed to reach the status of a developed country, despite its massive potential. He pinned the blame on corruption and politicians who focused on politicking rather than development.

The country’s failure to fulfil its potential was the fault of his successors as prime minister who, he said, had dismantled policies he introduced which had put the nation in a strong position.

“When I chose to resign as prime minister (in 2003), it was not because of pressure of any kind. I chose to resign because, at the time, Malaysia’s economic growth was very good.

“I thought my successor would continue the policies that have been implemented for the country’s benefit. I believe that if they had carried on with the policies that made Malaysia known as an Asian tiger, Malaysia would have become a developed country by 2020.

“But they didn’t do it,” he said.

Mahathir first took office as prime minister in 1981. After 22 years in office, he resigned in 2003 to be succeeded by his then deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Six years later, Abdullah made way for Najib.

At the 2018 general election, Najib’s BN government was defeated by Pakatan Harapan, which nominated Mahathir, then Bersatu chairman, to be prime minister. He resigned, for the second time in his career, on Feb 24, 2020.