PAS Muktamar to discuss poor performance in Sarawak polls

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SEREMBAN: Among the issues set to dominate PAS’ 62nd muktamar in Kota Bharu, Kelantan next week are its failure to win any seats in Sarawak at the recently-concluded state election, challenges posed by Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) and the upcoming parliamentary by-elections in Sungai Besar, Selangor and Kuala Kangsar, Perak.

The three-day annual conference, starting June 1, is geared towards empowering the party and consolidating its position in the nation’s political arena – something that has become all the more pertinent now that it is likely to face Amanah and the Barisan Nasional (BN) at the two by-elections.

Political analysts also expect the issue of voter support to emerge as one of the “hot” topics at the muktamar considering that PAS is not part of the new opposition bloc, Pakatan Harapan, consisting of DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Amanah.

They say although PAS is maintaining its political cooperation with PKR, especially in Selangor, there is no guarantee that PAS will enjoy the full support of PKR’s grassroot members.

And, what about the cooperation between PAS and Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (IKATAN), a multi-racial party led by former Cabinet minister Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir? On March 16, PAS and IKATAN announced their alliance, thus marking the emergence of a third political bloc.

Their collaboration is said to project a more mature and peaceful approach to politics and the two parties hope to provide Malaysian voters with a viable alternative front.

Universiti Putra Malaysia lecturer Mohd Izani Mohd Zain said next week’s muktamar was vital as PAS would have to use it as the platform to chart its directions, following the demise of the loose coalition among PAS, DAP and PKR, Pakatan Rakyat.

“This time around, the leaders are not bogged down by the ‘political cooperation’ baggage… in the past two muktamar in 2014 and 2015, their discussions centred around the need to remain steadfast to their common struggle.

“But now PAS is free to focus on its own political journey. And, they must make use of this muktamar to strengthen the party,” Mohd Izani, who is attached to the university’s Faculty of Human Ecology, told Bernama.

Pointing to the PAS-IKATAN cooperation, he felt the pact would not amount to much and that IKATAN may not be of much help to PAS.

Universiti Teknologi MARA lecturer Che Hamdan Che Mohd Razali, who is attached to the Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies at its campus in Raub, Pahang, said PAS should work on proving to the people that it was a worthy alternative, instead of merely taking potshots at government leaders.

“The people want to know whether PAS is capable of managing the (nation’s) economy, politics and racial unity. This is what the people want to hear and see, not just watch them blaming or criticising the government,” he said.

On the muktamar, Che Hamdan said among the issues likely to be brought up would be the party’s dismal performance at the Sarawak state election earlier this month, adding that the delegates were most probably eager to hear the post-mortem.

They would want to know the actual reasons PAS did not win a single seat in the state assembly, he said, adding that even PKR, which was a relatively new party compared to PAS, was able to secure three seats in the recent election.

“PAS has to think of new strategies to gain support… if not, over the passage of time, it may become irrelevant.

“This is also its first muktamar after several of its leaders left the party to form Amanah. PAS must show that it’s still relevant,” he told Bernama.

Both the political analysts also said that while PAS and Amanah were rivals, they viewed the rivalry between them as a “brotherly one”.

They said this issue may be raised at the muktamar to enable PAS to devise the necessary strategies to retain its support base and prevent it from splitting.

“I don’t think PAS will lose easily to Amanah… and Amanah should also realise that it doesn’t have as many supporters as PAS has, as this is the current political reality,” Che Hamdan said.

He also believed that next week’s muktamar would reverberate with the relentless beat of the war drum by party leaders to infuse zeal into the delegates and ensure that the entire party machinery worked hard to win the people’s support.

About 2,000 delegates and observers are expected to attend the PAS muktamar, scheduled to be held at the Pusat Tarbiah Islamiah Kelantan in Pengkalan Chepa, Kota Bharu. – Bernama