Post-PAS Muktamar scenarios
Media statement by DAP Johor Chairman and MP for Kluang Liew Chin Tong on 7th June 2015 in Muar, Johor
I have been asked by the media to comment on DAP’s relations with PAS in Johor.
PAS Muktamar’s 6th June 2015 approval of a motion to severe ties with DAP, as well as the PAS party polls on 4th June are two key events that set the scene for major realignments in Malaysian politics beyond PAS’ internal dynamics.
The agenda of PAS’ conservatives is to work with UMNO with the aim of pushing for hudud legislation. In the mean time, in order to work with UMNO and to push for hudud, ties with DAP needed to be severed. To win federal power is not a priority as the conservatives are prepared to accept UMNO’s continous rule.
The progressives, who became a significant force in PAS after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking in 1998, aspire to defeat UMNO and its associated racial politics. As it is realistic to expect PAS not to win enough seats on its own to form the federal government , cooperation with DAP via a consensus-based common policy platform is deemed the pragmatic route.
The defeat of the progressives and the motion to severe ties with DAP gives rise to new situations and scenarios.
The current scenarios are as such:
First, unhappiness with the leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and by extention the UMNO government is getting more and more widespread by the day. Najib’s economic policies, especially the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), as well as perceived misconducts and potentially corrupt practices, especially 1MDB, are shaping up to the potential of a Malay tsunami.
Second, Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak are disappointed with long-term neglect by the federal government, as well as the effect of ideas of hardline Islamists. There is a groundswell of anti-federal, anti-UMNO sentiment.
Third, most non-Malay voters lost their affection for UMNO since 2008. An economic downturn, in part triggered by the implementation of GST, is only going to further distance the voters from UMNO.
The hardline stance on various issues relating to Islam taken by PAS conservatives will mean that voters in Sabah, Sarawak and non-Muslims would not trust the hardliners in PAS.
And, for the PAS conservatives to advocate for closer relations with UMNO when anti-Najib and anti-UMNO sentiments are building up among the Malays, the party will see its middle ground Malay support slipping away.
Indeed, a vacuum is waiting for the progressives in PAS and all other anti-UMNO forces to fill.
In the weeks and months to come, the search for new paths by the progressives and all other Malay moderate opinion leaders to fill the vacuum would see major political realignments in Malaysian politics.
To reply to the queries by members of the press, the DAP Johor State Committee will abide by the decision of DAP Central Committee on the relationship with PAS.
DAP Johor will also attempt to be the rallying point of all anti-UMNO forces in order to defeat UMNO.
DAP Johor will ensure that the DAP is not absent in the anticipated realignments in Malaysian politics. With two-thirds of the parliamentary seats in Johor being multi-ethnic in nature, DAP must break out from the existing constraints to secure the current support from non-Malay voters but also make the DAP the party of choice for Malay voters in urban and semi-urban settings.