The 666th post for an entry on PAS. It truly couldn’t be any more appropriate than this.
Earlier today, Pengkalan Pasir Assemblyman Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Jaafar passed away, leaving a state assembly seat in Kelantan up for grab. This death should remind PAS what they had found out in the last Malaysian general election – PAS is in trouble. How big a trouble:
Wan Abdul Aziz contested on a PAS ticket in the last general election and beat the Barisan Nasional’s candidate, Hanafi Mamat, by a slim 55-vote majority.
He polled 7,168 against Hanafi’s 7,113.
And the bigger picture:
“The present situation is really interesting. If prior to this PAS held 24 seats and Barisan Nasional (BN) 21, now PAS has only 23 seats…Can’t say much, but its an interesting development,” he said this when met by reporters after paying his last respects to Wan Abdul Aziz at the latter’s home in Kubang Bemban, Pasir Mas.
This is also a sneak peak at PAS u-turn in trying to look more moderate. In my opinion however, this u-turn might backfire.
PAS is not alone in this u-turn and certainly no the first. While PAS is slowly trying to relabel itself as moderate Islamist party, UMNO has been doing a more-Islamic-than-PAS ever since Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became UMNO President with his Islam Hadhari. I personally think Islam Hadhari is balderdash but what’s important is, UMNO’s u-turn has been tested and it works. That’s all the matters.
PAS u-turn however is a little bit risky. By becoming more moderate, PAS may stand a chance nationally but not on state level. PAS doesn’t need to move leftward in the political spectrum in Kelantan. Reason is, the population there is already stuck in the right. Too much shifting to the left will see PAS risking disfranchising its base. Already, when PAS invited Mawi to perform in Kelantan, crack was showing within PAS ranks.
But then, I have the impression that Mawi’s concert was a sellout. This so-called Mawi-factor might be an asset instead of a liability. You’ll never know but given what I know right now, I’ll put my money on UMNO this time.
As for me, I don’t really care who will win. Whether it will be PAS or UMNO, I don’t see how it changes the dynamic in Kelantan state assembly. PAS still won’t control two thirds of the state assembly and UMNO or BN, still won’t get half of total seat. This upcoming by-election, which needs to be held within the next 60 days, is more about psychology.
Nevertheless, the next 60 days will be important for battleground Kelantan. Pengkalan Pasir by-election will serve as a signal of things to come in 2008. Or 2009.
erratum – there was an error in post numbering. This post was numbered 666 before the error was discovered.
p/s – oh yeah, joining the bandwagon, Happy Halloween to those that celebrate it. Er, I mean, Deepavali.