Saturday, February 27, 2016

After fallout with DAP, wooing Chinese voters near impossible for PAS, says analyst

PAS leaders were busy during the recent Lunar New Year joining in the celebrations with Chinese locals, with party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang tossing yee sang in Perak, while one leader in Selangor dressed up as a Chinese deity and Johor leaders wore red. The Islamist party was engaging directly with non-Muslims, especially the Chinese, in order to shore up its voter base ahead of the next general election, said a political analyst. Mohamad Hisomuddin Bakar (pic) believed that PAS had realised that the Chinese vote was the reason it won many of the seats contested in the past two elections in 2008 and 2013. "So PAS is forced to win over the support of the Chinese by itself, now that it has split up with DAP," said the executive director of independent think tank Ilham Centre. Since its fallout with former partner DAP last year over hudud, PAS had held numerous programmes for non-Muslims, particularly the Chinese, in which it promised their rights would not be eroded should it win the next general election. During a dialogue in Kuantan, Pahang recently, Hadi assured the Chinese that the party would not change the Federal Constitution if it ruled the country. He said PAS was only seeking minor amendments to ensure Islam was redefined as a way of life (ad deen) rather than just a religion. He also assured that PAS would upgrade Chinese vernacular schools, rather than shut them down. The schools were a major concern among Kuantan locals. But the Islamic party's attempts to win over the Chinese would amount to nought, said Hisomuddin. "I believe their efforts are a waste of time. "If PAS wants to win back the Chinese votes, PAS needs to be with the block that supports DAP, not move on its own." He said the Chinese community's voting patterns indicated they had always voted as one block, with little variations between each locality. Hisomuddin said PAS's partnership with DAP in Pakatan Rakyat was the main reason it obtained so much support from the Chinese in the 2013 general election. The Chinese vote for PAS increased from 59.3% in the 2008 general election to 73.4% in the 13th general election, mainly because of the community's support for Pakatan Rakyat. Hisomuddin cited as example the Bukit Gantang parliamentary constituency in Perak, where PAS lost to Umno's candidate in 10 ballot boxes used by Malay voters. But strong support from the Chinese through just three boxes helped PAS to victory in Bukit Gantang, said Hisomuddin. The same scenario played out in Selangor. The Chinese votes for PAS increased by nearly 30% in the last election, from 42.9% in the 2008 polls to 70.2% in the 2013 polls, he said. This allowed PAS to increase its state seats from eight to 15 in the Selangor legislative assembly. PAS was also able to maintain the Kota Raja, Hulu Langat, Sepang and Shah Alam parliamentary seats in Selangor because of the Chinese, he added. However, Universiti Selangor vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohammad Redzuan Othman (pic) said the Chinese in Selangor had not completely abandoned PAS. "According to our studies, about 18% of Chinese voters in Selangor still support PAS. Not all of them have withdrawn their support." But he said the figure was just a tiny fraction of the 70.3% Chinese support PAS enjoyed in the 2013 general election. At the PAS muktamar, or annual general assembly, last June, delegates approved a motion to cut ties with DAP. – February 28, 2016.]]>

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