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Kelantan, Voter sentiment

PAS Is Here To Stay – Part 1

The seat allocation based on parties for the Kelantan state legislative assembly, after considering the PAS-Amanah split.
Image from ISEAS.

Up until recently, Malaysia has been governed by only one coalition of parties since independence in 1957. Now the opposition coalition called Pakatan Harapan (PH) is challenging this coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN) or Pakatan Nasional depending on which version of events you follow.

The previous General Election (GE14) witnessed Kelantan offering a level playing field among an unprecedented three groups, although PAS has dominated the political landscape of the state for nearly three decades. Ustaz Dato’ Bentara Kanan Haji Ahmad bin Yakob was selected as the 17th and
current Menteri Besar of Kelantan, who took office on the 6th of May 2013. This is the sixth term that he has
retained his post in the Islamic party as the parliamentary representative of the Pasir Pekan constituency.

The state has 14 parliament seats and 45 state seats. An online survey of the political landscape in Kelantan was conducted after almost a year after GE14 with a representative sample of 1,073 respondents to garner their political and economical insights regarding the current Kelantan government. 

Who Did We Talk To

The two graphs below demonstrate the demographics of the respondents we interviewed from Kelantan.

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Bar graph 1: Voter by political party composition
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Bar graph 2: Race and Age group composition

Kelantanese Malay people are the predominant ethnic group in the state. Ethnic Malays make up 94 percent of the Kelantanese population based on the survey, and under the Malaysian Constitution, all Malays are Muslims; therefore, Islam is the most influential religion in the state.

In 1995, Kelantan PAS commissioner Datuk Ahmad Yakob was offered to compete for Pasir Pekan’s assembly seat in the 9th Malaysian General Election and won a majority of 2,734 votes against BN candidate Saupi Daud. In GE14, he was then appointed Chief Minister, replacing Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat. Barisan Nasional (BN) claimed the majority of the seats. PH, using the ticket from PKR, and PSM both contested the Kelantan state seats, but failed to win any. This is probably because the PH’s approach was not very suitable in Kelantan. In fact, for a few decades, the state of Kelantan has been unique in many ways throughout Malaysian politics, particularly for its distinctive political choice and religious character. The government of Kelantan uses their authority to administer the state with the policy of developing Islam.

Pie Chart 1: State Government Performance
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Pie Chart 2,3 and 4: State Government Performance by Party supporter composition

From the survey, the majority of respondents were satisfied with the state government under PAS. Surprisingly, more than half of the respondents from who supported the opposition agreed that PAS has been good at ruling Kelantan so far. This could be because the Kelantanese have never witnessed any other political party governing the state. They have only experienced rule under an Islamic government. 

However, 34% of PH supporters were dissatisfied with the state’s performance as they probably want a state government that can offer more changes in the state. In the areas that have a higher Chinese and Indian population such as Kota Bharu and Pengkalan Chepa, the PH supporters are relatively higher compared to other areas. This shows that many people still like and believe in PAS, however they are not satisfied with the performance of their leaders. They are happy with a PAS rule, but worried about the slow economy and even though the Chief Minister is seen in a largely positive light, he has not been effective at bringing about greater progress for the state.  But it is not all doom and gloom because our survey also found that if a national election were to take place again , PAS is still a choice party with 38 percent of respondents saying they would vote for it again. And thanks to our first past the post electoral system, in a three cornered fight, 38 percent might just see PAS taking control again.

Catch our next article here to read why the Kelantanese will still choose PAS despite all the issues that surround them


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