PAS is here to stay – Part 2
Kelantan seems almost like another world when viewed from the lens of the urban Kl-ites. Many are genuinely perplexed why the people of Kelantan would still time and time again vote in the conservative PAS. Therein lies the almost unbridgeable gap between the conservatives and the liberals.
The influence of the ulama in Kelantan plays a huge part in why people still select PAS. The influence of the late Tuan Guru Nik Aziz and Haji Hadi Awang are very strong in Kelantan, despite Kelantanese’s different races. So, most of the people in these states would prefer Malay Muslim candidates to govern them.
Based on our survey, it is not that PH as a party is weak, but maybe because PH is still new in Kelantan. PAS has a decades long history in Kelantan. Additionally PH appeals to a more urban, liberal crowd, that is how they brand themselves whereas the Kelantanese prefer the more Islamic agenda that PAS offers. Third, PAS has a strong grassroots network in Kelantan that actively works with the locals.
The second reason, is that the Kelantanese claim the opposition party candidates in Kelantan are made up of technocrats. BN’s loss is caused by corruption. PAS is more reliable and trustworthy because it has a relatively cleaner record. Meanwhile, the candidates of Amanah are mostly non-local or unrecognizable to the local population. Even with the appearance of the fledgling political party, and with PH under Tun Dr Mahathir, one third of the respondents still choose PAS to govern their state. One of the main factors for PAS to win most of the assembly seats in GE14, is because the young people and PAS voters are consistent in maintaining the Kelantan administration.
Federal Government Performance
It is expected that most of the Kelantanese respondents are dissatisfied with the federal government performance (PH) as they disagreed with the policies made by PH. It is possible that religious and racial biases will come into play. Allegations of Islam and the Malays being under threat, common topics used by PH government critics and possibly influenced them to some extent.
It is surprising that as much as 67% of Kelantanese respondents accept the cooperation of PAS with UMNO, even though they have never been governed by UMNO. It is possible that the conservative Malay Muslim similarity in certain factions of UMNO is seen as acceptable by the Kelantanese. Also when PAS endorses this partnership , the conflation between religion and politics is hard to separate and this gives the partnership and additional layer of validation. The PH ruling coalition should not take things too lightly given the fact that these two parties command nearly two-thirds of the Malay electorate. And in more recent times it is proven that this is a formidable alliance. PH will have to figure out ways to strengthen its appeal to conservative Muslims without compromising its multicultural stance in order to ‘tackle’ and establish better political ties with the Kelantanese people.