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PAS chief says Malaysian opposition party must work on winning over non-Muslim voters: Reports

SINGAPORE: Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) must work on winning over non-Malay and non-Muslim voters if the Islamic party is to make greater inroads at the country’s 16th general election (GE16), said its president Abdul Hadi Awang. 

The party chief was speaking on Friday (Oct 20) at the opening of PAS’ 69th annual congress. 

“We did a post-mortem and we found weaknesses and strengths … among the weaknesses were our failure to get voters who are not Muslims and the insufficient number of seats,” he said, as quoted by the Malay Mail. 

In the recent state elections, PAS contested a majority of the seats – 126 out of 245 – winning a total of 105. 

This came after a similar strong showing at GE15 in November last year, where PAS became the single-largest entity in Malaysia’s parliament with control of 43 seats to lead opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN).

In the wake of the six state elections, analysts said PAS was now the principal party for the Malays in Malaysia, taking over that mantle from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). 

But more needs to be done with the party seeking to expand its appeal beyond the northern Malay heartland states of Terengganu, Kelantan, Perlis and Kedah. 

Abdul Hadi described the task as an “important and challenging” responsibility that was crucial for the party to form the federal government at the next polls, reported news outlet Free Malaysia Today. 

He reiterated that the party’s conservative agenda would not mean that the rights of non-Malays and non-Muslims in Malaysia would be ignored. 

He said the party will continue to “preserve freedom of religion and ensure justice”, added the report. 

According to the Malay Mail, Abdul Hadi said PAS – which has more than a million members – must also be resolved to uphold the principles of Islam and “practise them in all aspects of state and federal governance”. 

He added that the party would continue with its trajectory and approach by assuring all Malaysians – both Muslims and non-Muslims – that PAS and PN would fulfil their electoral pledges by “implementing three important concepts – fair, empathy and welfare”. 

The Star quoted Abdul Hadi as saying that PAS’ narrative had been “disturbed” by the Democratic Action Party (DAP), who used “negative propaganda to put Islam in a bad light”. 

DAP is one of the component parties in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

However, Abdul Hadi pointed to his party’s track record, having ruled Kelantan’s government for about 30 years, and that non-Malay voters in the state had accepted them.

“The non-Malays know how we ruled (in Kelantan), the same in Terengganu and Kedah,” he said as reported by The Star. 

“PAS is open to cooperation and understanding with moderate non-Muslims. It also allows them to study Islamic knowledge, read the Quran, and engage with its teachings under appropriate guidance and supervision.”

On its momentum, Abdul Hadi added he was confident PAS would continue to attract voters, telling The New Straits Times: “We hope so. This is based on our performance during the state elections where we secured a large number of seats during the polls.”

Related:

Analysis: Strong state poll performance by Perikatan Nasional boosts stock for some PAS leaders, but obstacles lie ahead

Commentary: Malaysia opposition party PAS’ overconfidence might be its undoing

PAS and its chief Hadi Awang 'biggest amplifiers' of racial rhetoric at Malaysia polls last year: Study
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