PAS torn between loyalty to Pakatan and supporting redelineation

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KUALA LUMPUR: PAS is in a bind over whether to support Barisan Nasional (BN) in Parliament to allow the redelineation of parliamentary constituencies, or to stick by its allies in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) who oppose the exercise.

Umno and BN need the Islamist party’s help to secure the elusive two-thirds majority needed to make the electoral boundary changes.

Currently, Umno and its coalition partners in BN have 134 parliamentary seats while the Islamist party has 21 seats. The combined seats from PAS will help BN surpass the two-thirds majority of 148 seats to amend the constitution and redraw the electoral boundaries.

A source in PAS said they would benefit from additional seats in Malay-majority areas, particularly in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis. He said the four states had not gained extra seats when the electoral boundaries were redrawn in 2003, adding that this was done to halt the party’s progress after it won big in the 1999 general election.

“PAS is now in a dilemma. Ditelan mati emak, diluah mati bapa,” said a senior PAS leader, quoting a Malay phrase which meant facing a difficult situation. He said if PAS were to cooperate with Umno in supporting the amendments to the Federal Constitution to enable the redelineation exercise, it would mean betraying its partners in PR.

But chances are high that PAS will back Umno over the matter, given its strained ties with DAP and PKR over the protracted hudud issue.

DAP said the PAS-led Kelantan government’s proposal to implement the Islamic criminal law in the state would jeopardise PR’s plans to take over Putrajaya, and was a betrayal of their partnership.

But PAS leaders are determined to enforce hudud in Kelantan on the grounds that the party had championed the law before PR was formed. PAS’s deputy spiritual leader, Datuk Dr Haron Din, has said that DAP’s relentless attacks against its push for hudud in Kelantan will only destroy the political ties between the two parties.

BN — Umno in particular — is said to be courting PAS for its support on the exercise.

The exercise has been regarded by the opposition and civil society groups as a tool in BN’s manipulation of the electoral process, where gerrymandering or manipulation of electoral boundaries are allegedly done to favour the ruling coalition.— The Malaysian Insider


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 23, 2014.