MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


                                                                                                                                     KKLIU 1211/2017
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017


PAS is expected to contest in the parliamentary and state seats it previously gave up to former ally PKR in the coming general election, which will see the Islamist party go up against its former rival and also Umno.
In more recent contests for seats, PAS helped PKR campaign and reach out to Malay voters, who make up some 70% of the electorate across the rural and semi-rural areas of Penanti, Permatang Pasir and Seberang Jaya, in the northern state of Penang.
With the old Pakatan Rakyat coalition and the PAS-PKR political co-operation both now dead, PAS will have to campaign for its own candidate against its former friends in Permatang Pauh: the “crown jewel” of PKR, synonymous with its jailed leader Anwar Ibrahim.
But no matter how it looks to outsiders, PAS grassroots in the constituency are not considering PKR the enemy. To some, PKR is not even the opponent for PAS to worry about.
Umno is the enemy, not PKR
Mansor Che Dan, a Permatang Pauh PAS division member said there was nothing awkward between his party and PKR.
“Yes, we used to work with our former allies, but we are not in the same coalition now. Yet PAS’ enemy is still Umno,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
Another PAS man, Fauzi Embi, shared Mansor’s view, saying: “We are not friends with PKR, but that doesn’t make PKR our enemy.”
He said the Permatang Pauh constituency was traditionally a seat contested between PAS and Umno.
“It may be a challenge, but I am sure PAS can do it. The party is ready. The work on the ground has already started,” he said.
Their sentiment echoed the PAS leadership’s defence against accusations that the Islamist party had warmed up to Umno and was going to create three-corner fights to split the votes in Barisan Nasional’s favour.
On Sunday, when the Permatang Pauh division launched its election machinery in Kubang Semang, PAS vice president Idris Ahmad told the local crowd repeatedly that the Islamist party was still in the opposition bloc.
PAS Permatang Pauh election director Amir Hamzah also affirmed that the fight for the seat would be against Umno, not former ally PKR.
“The fight is with Umno. That is what our surveys on the ground have told us. The Anwar name may have influence in these parts, but he is in jail,” he said, referring Anwar’s five-year sentence for sodomy.
Machinery advantage over PKR
PAS leaders have also alluded that PKR in its new Pakatan Harapan coalition lacked the machinery to penetrate the more rural Malay areas to gain voter support.
It is well-known that the parties with this strength are PAS and BN lynchpin party Umno, which rely on Malay rural votes to win elections.
Mansor pointed out that BN had managed to reduce PKR’s majority in the last Permatang Pauh by-election, won by Anwar’s wife, and PH and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
He said he did not expect any problems should the Islamist party contest in Permatang Pauh, because it had many years of experience campaigning and laying the groundwork in previous elections, either for itself or PKR.
“Before there was PR, we contested the seat. We even ran against Anwar when he was in Umno. We will face any candidate from the other parties. It doesn’t matter.
“Unlike others, PAS is active on the ground to meet the electorate and give aid through regular welfare programmes, not just when the elections come,” he said.
Mansor added that the community spirit among PAS members and supporters was strong enough to help the needy, regardless of political affiliation; and that people were better informed these days to assess political parties rather than the individual candidates.
It’s what PAS grassroots want
Permatang Pauh PAS division chief Omar Hassan said the party had studied the grassroots’ sentiment about the political situation after the Islamist party severed ties with its former PR allies.
“This is also their intention. They are all with the leadership on this,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
Omar also said PAS had nothing personal against anyone in its decision to contest more seats.
“We are not fighting against personalities. As a party, we have our own stand that differs from others. What is important to us is we work for the people.
“Even today, we maintain personal communication with our friends in PKR and even DAP, although our parties have no formal political co-operation. We hope everyone will keep an open mind,” he said.
The last time PAS held Permatang Pauh was from 1978 to 1982, after Zabidi Ali won the seat. The only election PAS did not contest the seat was in 1974 when it was part of the ruling coalition.
– https://www.themalaysianinsight.com

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