Since the last general election, the party that has gained the most is , unlike what many people thought, not PKR, but rather PAS.
The nonMalay voters used to view PAS as dangerous and fanatical, what with the constant reminder by main stream media that this is a party out to form an Islamic state and that advocates implementation of the hudud.
Time and again, not matter how dissatisfied these nonMalay voters were against UMNO and BN component parties, when it came to voting, they would still vote UMNO and the component parties. As the saying goes: “It is always better to deal with the devils we are familair with than to vote for something that is unknown”..
After MArch 8, this perception against PAS has drastically changed. Non Malays have no qualm to vote for PAS now, as seen in the recent Bukit Gantang by election.
Does this mean that Non Malay will continue support PAS?
At the present moment, based on the sentiments from the ground, the Malay votes are split, with slight advantage to UMNO.. maybe in the region of 53 to 47%. However, 80% of the Chinese votes are now for opposition (and most of these will have no qualm to vote for PAS), with about 65% of Indian votes supporting the opposition. What this means is that if this level of support does not change, BN will find itself losing power comes the next general election.
The support for PAS is not due to NonMalay suddenly embracing the ideas of an Islamic State . Many who supported PAS have expressed the feeling that things cannot be worse than now, so even an unknown entity is now better than the devil, so to speak.. SO the support for PAS is basically because the nonMalays yearn for a change .
PAS knows that its rebranding as a National Party has a lot to do with NonMalay support. WIthout this support, it cannot hope to become a party with National appeal. . And this support is given because people want a change.
Now, the president and the deputy president of PAS are talking about forming a unity government with UMNO. IS this what their Non Malay supporters want?
What is a unity government anyway? In my mind, it will be like what happened after May 13, when the Alliance gave way to Barisan Nasional, and in the process, opposition parties like PMIP (the present PAS), Gerakan, PPP and parties in East Malaysia, all became part of the coalition partners inside BN ..The BN then was a form of unity government, but as time went on, the concept of the unity government gave way to become a coalition in which one party towers over all the other component parties.
What followed the formation of BN was that opposition voices were weakened, and a dominant party had surfaced. This dominance was translated to an almost absolute power . As we all know, absolute power corrupts . That is what brought us to the present state we are facing : mediocrity in almost all fields including the judiciary and tertiary institutions, increasing polarisation, loss of transparency and accountability, loss of excellence , corruption, abuse of power and so on.
The good thing about 308 is that a rudimentary 2-coalition system has taken shape. No matter how imperfect this 2 party system is, it is still a better system of check and balance. Even those in BN have acknowledged that this will be good for the country in the long run. As an example, even Khairy has mentioned that personally he was happy that a 2 party system has resulted from the last election (refer to his interview in Malaysiakini). Those in BN should not feel bad about this 2 party phenomenon. In a way, if BN loses the next round, it will pave the revival and true reform of BN as in the case of Kuomintang of Taiwan. Partisan politics aside, a 2 party system is good for the country and the rakyat in the long run.
PAS’s leadership should understand that the support from the NonMalays for PAS is not a certainty, rather this support needs to be earned. This support can only be earned if the party supports a 2 party system that most nonMalays now yearn for..