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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Strong showing in Sabah augurs well for PAS

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) recorded a considerably strong showing in the just concluded 13th General Election (GE13) in Sabah, despite failing to win any of the 11 seats that it contested.

The peninsular-based Islamic party was tasked to represent Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in challenging the Barisan Nasional (BN) in nine predominantly Muslim majority seats, apart from two parliamentary constituencies.

Although they did not contribute any victory to the opposition alliance that wrested an additional 10 state seats and one parliamentary seat in Sabah, PAS came out of this election undefeated in spirit, stronger and more motivated.

This was the first time they contested under PR in so many seats in Sabah, and for a party previously viewed as alien and irrelevant in Sabah, their notable performance in the May 5 balloting was a victory in its own right.

“We did not win any (seat) but we managed to attract a significant number of voters in certain areas,” Sabah PAS state commissioner Hj Mohd Aminuddin Aling pointed out.

Had there been more straight fights, he said PAS would have won more votes.

“The point is, it shows that the voters in Sabah are beginning to accept the ideologies and agendas that PAS offers to them. It’s a good place to start, to continue marching forward. There is a lot more that needs to be done by PAS in Sabah and we will take this as a motivation to continue working hard. We will continue to touch base with the people, implement our programmes and activities and work towards achieving our Welfare State agenda,” he said when contacted yesterday.

The party officially began its operation in Sabah after it was registered in the State in the late 80s, but cold response from the mixed communities in Sabah saw them progressing at a snail’s pace.

Almost 30 years later, they are basically still on the sidelines, as the insignificant political party in Sabah and far from reaching the same iconic recognition it has in its home base Kelantan.

To date, they have only 13 to 15 branches in the whole of Sabah, with a few more protem divisional committees struggling to get their branches registered and functioning.

Yet, in Sunday’s polling, PAS won about 21,335 or 20.2 per cent of the combined votes from all the nine state seats they contested in, second behind BN who secured 68,342 or 56.4 per cent from the total of 105,595 votes.

The remainder of the votes went to KITA (0.1%), STAR (5.9%), SAPP (2.1%) and Independents (6.9%).

In fact, only two of its nine state candidates lost their deposit, in Pitas and Bugaya, after the party secured less than 10 per cent of the total votes in both areas.

Some of its candidates were more noticeable, like lawyer Hamid Ismail who received 5,409 or 32.6 per cent of the total votes in Tanjong Aru, and Ahmad Dullah who gained 3,957 (28.4%) votes in Merotai.

At the parliamentary level, PAS polled a total of 18,191 votes, which translated to 30.5 per cent of the overall turnout at the two constituencies they vied for, namely Kalabakan and Batu Sapi.

BN commanded 60.7 per cent (36,210 from 59,631 votes), while STAR 2.8 per cent and Independent candidates 6 per cent.

The question however, remains. Has PAS really began to be recognized by Muslim voters in Sabah or is their seemingly stronger performance just a stroke of luck?

Had the seats they contested in were tackled by the other PR members, could the result have been different, given that both Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) have done better?

PKR, who contested in 43 state seats, won seven, in addition to its surprise win for the Penampang parliamentary seat.

DAP, meanwhile, wrested an additional parliamentary seat, namely Sandakan, while retaining Kota Kinabalu, in addition to four new state seats now under its belt.

Together, PR now holds 11 state seats and three parliamentary seats in Sabah.

 Posted on May 7, 2013, Tuesday

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