PAS expected to win hands down in Terengganu


THE 15th General Election (GE15) held last year will go down in history as one of the most intense and pivotal elections in Malaysia, earning the moniker “Mother of Election”. The highly anticipated victory of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, leader of Pakatan Harapan (PH), brought about significant changes in the country’s political landscape. 

However, the completion of the electoral process awaits the outcome of six state elections in Terengganu, Kelantan, Penang, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Kedah, as these states did not dissolve their ruling governments simultaneously with the others. 

The East Coast state of Terengganu, filled with sandy white beaches, beautiful islands and great food, went through its first state government change back in 1999 following the original “green wave” against Barisan Nasional (BN), when the Malay votes swung against the latter. 

BN wrested the state back in 2004 and after two decades, PAS made a comeback by winning it in 2018 and in GE15 when the Islamic party won all eight Parliamentary seats in Terengganu. 

Former Terengganu MB and PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang notably defended his seat in Marang, garnering a majority of 20,000 votes, having left his state seat of Rhu Rendang which he held from 1982. BN’s total failure to win in Terengganu in 2018 masked the even worst performance by PH, which failed to win any seats.

Pacific Research Centre principal advisor of Malaysia and Senior Fellow at Singapore Institute of International Affairs Dr Oh Ei Sun predicted that it’s likely PAS will continue its dominance in Terengganu. 

“Building on the green wave momentum, which was quite evident in the last GE especially in the East Coast, it would appear that PAS is likely to swoop back into power in Terengganu,” he told The Malaysia Reserve (TMR). 

Terengganu PAS commissioner Datuk Husain Awang has said the party is expected to maintain its administration of the state with a higher majority. He said PAS is confident of winning the 10 state seats currently controlled by PN in the upcoming state election based on the results of GE15. 

Meanwhile, PH state chief Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Raja Ahmad previously mentioned that the federal government party would give up a few seats for BN to contest in the state. 

Oh said the situation is rather interesting, seeing PH and BN’s political arrangement in the present when they were old adversaries in the PASt. 

“PH has next to nothing electoral chance in Terengganu, so it might as well extend the gratuitous favour to BN, perhaps in exchange for some other seats in other states where PH stands a higher chance of winning. 

“This pragmatic arrangement also has the benefit of avoiding three-cornered fights that would surely buttress PAS’ winning chances,” he said. 

Known to possess conservative and religious attitudes, Dr Oh said it is very unlikely that Terengganu voters — as with the majority of East Coast voters — would opt for a different party in the state other than PAS. 

He added that the prominent religiosity and perceived piety are important characteristics that voters will likely choose, rather than the livelihood issue as per other parts of the country. 

“And on that score, PAS would win hands down over BN, not to mention PH,” Oh said. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition