The results of the recent PAS party elections showed that PAS has discarded its Islamic tag kicking out the ulamas from its top leadership in order to better spread its influence among non-Muslims and other bumiputras.
DAP's rising popularity and unprecedented success in the recent Sarawak elections has given PAS members the inspiration and realization that using the Islamic robe may not go down well with non-Muslims, urbanised Malays and bumiputras of Sabah and Sarawak.It is time to exchange the Islamic robe for a more secular attire.
PAS learned very fast from the recent Sarawak state elections.Its Islamic credentials struck fear in the hearts of East Malaysians.The two states has strong Christian population.Its performance in the Sarawak elections was disastrous. With its new image it can now cast a wider net in the two East Malaysian states using the Erdogen ( Oxford Dictionary should include this noun in its next edition) name tag.
Who would be the biggest loser with PAS new cosmetic makeup?
Why cosmetic? Because behind the new image lurks the leopard with the same spot, the influential syura council is still dominated by the ulamas.The ulamas can still make a come back when time is ripe for them to do so.
If PAS came out the biggest winner collecting the most number of parliamentary seats in the 13th General Elections than the biggest loser would be Anwar Ibrahim who would lose his chance of becoming prime minister.The premiership would either go to Hadi Awang or DAP's favourite horse, the liberal minded Mohammad Sabu also popularly known as Mat Sabu.
As former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohammad wrote in his blog posting that the biggest winner is not PAS but DAP and Karpal Singh who managed to convert PAS to drop its Islamic tag and take the secular road.Karpal Singh has won the day and he needs not die to allow PAS to govern the nation.
DAP, as the second biggest party emerging from the 13th GE (General Elections) would have undue influence on who would be prime minister from the PAS stable.PKR would be the most junior partner in the coalition if Pakatan could muster enough seats to form the government. Anwar would not be able to demand the premiership to be given to him.
How do conservative Malays view PAS new image?
Do not rule out the possibility that PAS new image may actually works against it and works in favour of UMNO.
PAS may gain from some non-Muslims votes but may lose greater part of its Malay votes if conservative Malays deem supporting PAS is supporting DAP to greater height and political power and weakening of the Malay political power.Ardent DAP supporters would vote for PAS candidates in the hope of strengthening DAP grip in the coalition government if it materialised.
The March 2008 General Elections and the recent Sarawak polls are testimonies of how powerful the Chinese can be if they took a united stand.In its entire existence DAP has not seen its political fortunes rising to a dizzying height, capturing Penang for itself and powerful coalition partner in Selangor and Perak when Perak was under Pakatan. It grabbed almost all seats under the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.In Sarawak elections it won 12 out of 15 seats contested.It's due to get solid block of the Chinese votes in the 13th GE decimating MCA and Gerakan.
I would not speculate on the judgement of Anwar's sodomy trail.It can go both ways.I expect the trail would drag on until after the 13th GE.The BN would be in imminent danger of losing the elections if Anwar is incarcerated before the general elections.As it is Anwar's influence has diminished somehow but sending him to prison would make him a hero and precipitates the people's anger.
If UMNO leaders think sending Anwar to prison would lessen Pakatan's chance of winning the elections they are mighty wrong.Anwar may be the devil he is but majority of Malaysians and even the holier than thou PAS leaders and supporters believed in his innocence.Anwar is also the link between PAS and DAP. Without his political manoeuvring the partners deep-seated differences could derail the coalition.
PAS has yet to be accepted in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak which would rather stay with the devil they know.Sabahans and Sarawakians biggest fear, particularly the Christians, is if PAS become the biggest partner in Pakatan taking over UMNO's role.The recent re-branding of PAS failed to excite the East Malaysians.The results of the 12th GE was a telling sign why Pakatan did not do well in Sabah and Sarawak.
Except for the DAP which will gain grounds in Sabah and Sarawak in the 13th GE, the other partners, PKR and PAS will not do well.I expect the KDM in Sabah and the Dayaks in Sarawak would stay put in BN.
The cold war in UMNO Sabah would also have a bearing on how the KDM would vote. If Najib's nominee Shafie Apdal stands in a state seat in the 13th GE than he is destined to be the chief minister replacing Musa Aman.There are talks that the KDM leaders are not in favour of Shafie after what happened during Mustapha's time and that there would be a new influx of immigrants using the back door.The story may have no bearing at all but the fear against illegal immigrants is real and more entranced in the KDM people.Najib needs to chose his candidates very carefully.
UMNO should not fear PAS new image, they could use it to their advantage if they know how.