MELAKA – The uncertainty over the symbol to be used by PAS for the Melaka state election was finally cleared when the party decided yesterday to contest under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) ticket and logo.
This will be only the second time that PAS, which was formed on Aug 23, 1951 and registered as a political party on May 31, 1955, will be contesting in the country’s democratic process without using its own logo although it had joined various political coalitions, among them Pakatan Rakyat, Alternative Front and Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah in previous elections.
The first time PAS contested without using its logo was in the fourth General Election (GE4) in 1974 when it contested on the Barisan Nasional (BN) ticket, before the Islamic party left BN in 1977 to contest as an opposition at GE5 in 1978.
A three-cornered fight in the Melaka polls involving BN, PN and Pakatan Harapan is not a surprise anymore, in fact it’s something many have been predicting following the failure to reach an accord between BN and PN.
However, despite the clash, what is interesting to watch will be the contest in the 22 Malay-majority State Legislative Assembly seats, which political observers expect to be intense.
In the Melaka polls this time, UMNO is confident of defending the 13 state seats it won in GE14 and is targeting two more seats to form the state government with a simple majority, although under the current political landscape, it’s difficult to see how one party can be dominant.
A party would need a simple majority of 15 seats to form the government and BN, at GE14, won the state seats in Kuala Linggi, Tanjung Bidara, Ayer Limau, Lendu, Taboh Naning, Asahan, Sungai Udang, Pantai Kundor, Ayer Molek, Rim, Serkam, Merlimau and Sungai Rambai.
There is political speculation that PAS will contest six state seats and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) eight seats and this could have led to the failure to find a meeting point involving BN and PN.
Although some are predicting that the cooperation between PAS and Bersatu would result in the failure of both parties, PAS’ move to use the PN logo has seems, however, to be a signal that it has found a win-win formula.
Senior Lecturer of the Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Raub Campus, Dr Che Hamdan Che Mohd Razali said PAS’ decision might have been driven by the advantage of contesting more seats compared to the pact with UMNO.
“Although the goal of winning is the main agenda, they are aware that their influence will be less compared to UMNO and PH. I see it more as a way to test their strength and a political marketing opportunity that is difficult to let go by PAS.
“Looking at the current trend, there is no way to avert three-cornered fights although PH looks to have a chance in the state election this time. It must be remembered that PH also has its own problems in terms of deciding who will be the chief minister and, at the same time, the issue of acceptance of former UMNO state assemblymen who jumped party,” he told Bernama today.
With the decision made by PAS, Che Hamdan said Muafakat Nasional (MN), spearheaded by PAS and UMNO and which had gained various successes in a series of by-elections, was becoming shaky, thus this situation could change depending on the results of the state election.
“PAS and UMNO may strengthen MN when they realise that for the coming general election, they have no other choice (to win),” he said.
At GE14, PAS contested 24 of the 28 state seats in Melaka. It lost all the seats, with 10 of its candidates also losing their deposits. Compared to GE13, it contested 13 seats and won one – Bukit Baru.
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Faculty of Human Ecology lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Izani Mohd Zain described PAS’ decision as a shock considering that it was very sensitive and never compromised on the question of its identity previously.
“I see PAS’ decision not to use its party logo as a bold move because all this while PAS strongly defended its symbol which had become its identity and this latest decision must have surely taken into account the views of its grassroots members.
“Perhaps this is a gamble by PAS to face the Melaka state election and if PAS does not benefit from it or loses, maybe PAS will review it,” he said, while not discounting the possibility that the decision could lead to protest votes among its supporters like what happened with it cooperated with the DAP and PKR previously.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang yesterday announced that it would use the PN symbol for the Melaka state election after the matter was approved during the PAS Central Working Committee’s meeting.
The Election Commission has set the nomination date for the Melaka state election on Nov 8, followed by early voting on Nov 16 and polling date on Nov 20.
The election is being held following the dissolution of the Melaka State Assembly on Oct 4, when four state assemblymen withdrew their support for Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali.
The four were Datuk Seri Idris Haron (BN-Sungai Udang), Datuk Nor Azman Hassan (BN-Pantai Kundor), Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee (Bebas-Pengkalan Batu) and Datuk Noor Effandi Ahmad (Bersatu-Telok Mas).