PETALING JAYA,Aug 21: Analysts have played down PAS’ ability to become kingmakers in the next general election, with one of them saying the party is buttering both sides of the bread by joining a pro tem committee to register Perikatan Nasional (PN) with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s bloc.
Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Pawi said PAS had always played it safe by wearing various masks, citing how it publicly stated its support for former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to serve out his full term in the post.
“In the end, they abandoned Mahathir,” he said.
He saw similarities in the current situation, telling FMT that PAS will probably remain steadfast in its support of PN only until Parliament is dissolved.
“Politics is ever-changing. What’s happening in Muafakat Nasional (MN) is only to be expected. PAS wants to play it safe in their politics.
“PAS joined the pro tem committee with PPBM to register PN simply to maintain its position in PN but at the same time remain with MN.
“But when Parliament is dissolved, PAS will lean towards the more dominant party. Then, PAS might choose to be with Umno because they might see a bigger chance to win and be in power with Umno,” he said.
Azman said PAS does not have the capabilities to lead a political bloc and was always a follower, “something that Umno knows well”.
He also said it would be difficult for PAS to function as a kingmaker as its influence was largely limited to the East Coast.
“There’s no way for it to have a fight with Umno, because should it happen, Umno would win. PAS will follow any party that allows them to remain in power, after so many years of not being in government.”
Two party insiders yesterday told FMT that PAS was aiming to become the kingmaker in the next elections as it sets up a pro tem committee with PPBM to register PN.
One of them said PAS was hoping to balance the “power” that Umno had over PAS in MN, noting that while PPBM was not a threat to the Islamist party, Umno could be as it had more MPs.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said it was unlikely for PAS to become a kingmaker in the next elections, adding that the numerous choices available to Malay voters – with Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Pejuang now in the mix – made things even more interesting.
He also agreed with Azman that PAS’ failure to break out of the East Coast had suppressed its influence, adding that Umno stood in the party’s way of growing into a nationwide organisation.
Chin told FMT it was not surprising that PAS joined the pro tem committee with PPBM in registering PN, as both parties would want to diminish Umno’s role in any ruling government coalition.
“PAS has always seen Umno as a threat because Umno has never agreed to PAS’ version of an Islamic state. Umno has always had their own version of what an Islamic state should look like so, ideologically, they’ve always been different,” he said.
However, Chin said PAS was not ideology-driven in forming a coalition, pointing out that it had worked with DAP in the opposition before this.
“They just want to get into government so that they can promote their version of an Islamic state, and when the time is right, they would want to change Malaysia into their version of an Islamic state,” he said.