The Islamic party Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) could play a critical role in final outcome of this Sunday’s election, according to Malaysian politics expert Anthony Milner.
Speaking to New Mandala, the Basham Professor of Asian History from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific said that while Anwar Ibrahim is getting a lot of the attention in this year’s Malaysian general election, it is important not to underestimate PAS.
“It’s important to remember that Anwar is not a member of the Islamic party,” said Milner.
“At times [PAS] seem to be getting half the Malay votes, which is quite significant.”
Milner added that even though PAS are often described in negative terms because of the strong stance they have on many issues, their appeal reached beyond their Islamic base.
“[In the party] there is a modesty and a determination not to be corrupt which attracts supporters to the Islamic party,” said Milner.
“If you talk to people who are not governed by Malays or Muslims they are quite relaxed about being governed by the Islamic party; so never underestimate their role in this election.”
According to Milner, PAK could play a critical role in any negotiations coming out of Sunday’s election.
“Presumably if there was some relationship between the long-standing ruling party UMNO and the Islamic party, deals would have to be done.
“And those deals would be of some interest to the way we think about the future of Malaysia and the future of Islam in Malaysia.”
This article forms part of New Mandala’s live coverage and analysis of Malaysia’s 2013 general election.