Malay Professionals May Drop PAS In Support Of New Party, Says Analyst

Malay Professionals May Drop PAS In Support Of New Party, Says Analyst

KUALA LUMPUR, (Bernama) — The formation of Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) may spell trouble for PAS as the new party has the potential to wrest the support of professionals living in the urban areas from PAS, said a political analyst.

Dean of Universiti Utara Malaysia’s College of Law, Government and International Studies, Asso Prof Dr Ahmad Martadha Mohamed, said PAS may return to the state it was in during the early days of its establishment when its supporters mainly comprised the ulamak, as well as voters from the middle- and lower-income categories in the rural areas.

“Although PAS is not expected to fold up, many members from the professional group are already beginning to leave the party. It was a huge mistake for the leaders to isolate the professionals in the party,” he told Bernama.

On Monday, PAS splinter group Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB) announced the formation of Amanah, which planned to take over the dormant Malaysian Workers Party and register its new name with the Registrar of Societies (RoS).

GHB President Mohamad Sabu had said that once the new name was approved by the RoS, they would launch the new party on Sept 16 to coincide with Malaysia Day.

Amanah is expected to attract PAS members from the professional group, which was soundly defeated by the ulamak group in the party elections held during the PAS muktamar in June.

A number of PAS divisional and even state leaders had resigned from their posts last month to join GHB. Among them were Kuala Krai Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli, Kota Raja MP Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, Kota Raja PAS division chief Jaafar Samsudin, Johor PAS Youth chief Mohd Faizul Mohd Salleh and Johor PAS Women’s Wing chief Norhayati Bachok.

Mohamed Sabu, who was former PAS Deputy President and Penang Commissioner, said the new party was targeting 35,000 members by Sept 16, following which state-level committees would be set up.

Ahmad Martadha claimed that PAS had been erroneous in its assumption that the party had the support of the majority of Muslims in this country.

“I believe that the party had, in the past, drawn its strength from the charisma of the leaders fielded as candidates during elections… the voters had supported these leaders, not the party per se.

“The party’s move to remove the professional group from the top leadership was based on its conviction that voter support towards PAS was on the rise.

“However, upon closer analysis, it’s obvious that PAS’ victory in urban seats was not due to the increase in the party membership but due to the appeal of its candidates from the professional group who possessed credibility and, at the same time, had the ability to attract Malay professionals, as well as non-Malay voters,” he explained.

Ahmad Martadha also opined that the move taken by the professionals to leave PAS and form a new party, whose objectives were in line with their struggle, would weaken PAS, which was mainly dependent on the support of its loyal voters in rural areas in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Pahang.

He said Amanah was already showing signs that it could be a worthy replacement for PAS, particularly in the context of a new political collaboration by Pakatan Rakyat component parties.

“Being a party whose idealism is more open, liberal and accommodative, Amanah may not only end up being the party of choice for Muslim professionals, but also non-Malays looking for an alternative to Barisan Nasional.

“It’s possible for Amanah to forge close ties with PKR and DAP as they have some things in common, unlike PAS whose ideologies and idealism differed from that of its Pakatan partners,” he added.