PAS’ overtures towards Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will not change how the Islamist party’s supporters vote in the Semenyih by-election this Saturday, several grassroots leaders have said.
Those polled by Malay Mail indicated that most members will likely vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Zakaria Hanafi, citing orders from PAS’ top leadership.
“Based on what is happening in Parliament, particularly on issues concerning Islam, our best bet is on BN,” a PAS division’s Youth wing chief, Mohd Rizal Malyulis, 33, told Malay Mail when met outside his home, which also doubles as the local party hub.
Rizal’s remark echoes his party’s leaders concern on issues such as anti-racial discrimination convention ICERD, local council elections and UEC school certification.
But instead of BN, PAS leaders have in this past few weeks put their faith in Dr Mahathir, insisting that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman is alone when it comes to defending Malay-Muslim interests.
This surprising endorsement however will unlikely faze PAS supporters in Kampung Kuala Pajam in Beranang here, where Rizal’s division is located.
Regardless of the grassroots members’ feelings for each candidate, Rizal said they will still vote for Zakaria as they were instructed by party secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan to do so on February 12.
“Even though Bersatu is essentially the same as Umno, coming from the same root, we will still vote for BN all the same,” he said, referring to Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), whose candidate Muhammad Aiman Zainali poses the biggest threat to Zakaria so far.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, Takiyuddin, and Terengganu Mentri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar had recently met with Dr Mahathir to express the party’s support for him to continue in his role.
Dr Mahathir had initially claimed that PAS had intended to stay away from campaigning for BN, but PAS leaders then insisted its support for Dr Mahathir and supporting BN in the by-election are not exclusive of each other.
PAS member Syed Asri Syed Sohor, 50, is part of the party’s election campaign team who has made Semenyih his temporary home during the stumping period to convince fellow members to vote for BN.
But even Syed Asri conceded that faced with such conflicting messages on the party’s allegiance between Dr Mahathir and BN, some members may just abstain from voting altogether.
“We obey the leadership, who sets the example for us to follow,” said the Kuala Selangor native.
“But as I see it, many of us do not support Bersatu since it is part of PH, which has yet to fulfill all its election manifesto promises.”
Meanwhile, Kuala Pajam PAS division chief Ishak Mohd Nor, 57, said even if all PAS members here vote for BN, there is no guarantee that Zakaria will triumph over Aiman.
“Their motivation to vote for BN is for the sake of the Malays and Islam. Bear in mind that as Bersatu counts DAP as its coalition member, that alone means we will not support them as a matter of principle,” he said at his home.
But he dismissed the impact of PAS president Hadi’s gesture towards Dr Mahathir.
“Unless of course, Bersatu leaves PH. Perhaps then we may consider voting for and supporting them,” he said.