PAS amenable to dissolving Terengganu assembly now, say sources

Diyana Ibrahim

The PAS government in Terengganu is inclined to hold its state elections at the same time as the 15th general election, several party sources say. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 13, 2022.

THE PAS government in Terengganu is inclined to hold its state elections at the same time as the 15th general election, even though the Islamist party’s initial decision was not to dissolve the state legislatures this year, several party sources said. 

PAS’ central committee is scheduled to meet today to finalise a decision on whether to dissolve the state assemblies in Terengganu, Kedah, and Kelantan.  

Today’s meeting comes after PAS had a similar discussion on Tuesday.

A source told The Malaysian Insight that Terengganu PAS, among others, was mindful of the cost to be borne by voters who have to return twice to vote if the federal and state elections are held separately.

They also do not want to be blamed by the public if the cost of expenses is high, which is said to reach up to RM2 billion, if the elections are not held simultaneously.

Terengganu PAS is confident that having the elections together will give it an advantage to be elected again after wresting the state administration from Barisan Nasional in the 2018 general election.

“This difference of opinion (in PAS) does not mean that we are not on the same page. 

“Originally, the final decision had been set (to have no dissolution) as they didn’t expect the dissolution of parliament to happen so quickly.

“However, with some recent developments, Terengganu PAS feels that there are many scenarios that need to be considered and taken into account if the state and parliamentary elections are held separately,” said a source familiar with the state’s PAS internal discussions.

The Election Commission is scheduled to meet on October 20 to determine the date for the next general election after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong agreed to dissolve parliament last Monday.

A day before that, PAS issued a statement confirming the party’s position not to dissolve state assemblies in the three states it governs. 

However, a day after the dissolution, caretaker Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar, who is also PAS vice-president, said the matter would be decided again. 

Yesterday, Samsuri met Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin but informed that it was only a routine meeting to discuss matters related to state administration.

Samsuri said the position to dissolve or not will be finalised in the party’s high-level meeting today.

“God willing (today) is the decision. The decision is already there, just support or confirmation from the discussion in the meeting (yesterday),” he said.

Ilham Centre executive director Hisommudin Bakar says PAS still has an advantage if state elections are held concurrently with the general election because of its position as the state government and that they also have several ministers in the federal government. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 13, 2022.

Hadi meets Muhyiddin

Another source said that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had a discussion with Bersatu President Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the chairman of Perikatan Nasional (PN) last night.

“The meeting included a discussion to finalise seat distribution.

“The question of PAS’ state assembly status was also discussed, but the full decision rests with the central committee, because in this case Bersatu can’t get involved in state affairs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ilham Centre executive director Hisommudin Bakar said PAS and PN will lose if state elections are not held simultaneously with the general election.

He said PAS still has an advantage if the elections are held concurrently because of its position as the state government and that they also have several ministers in the federal government.

“Their position is similar to Barisan Nasional (BN) but if the state elections are held separately, the scenario will change. The Umno election machinery will be fully focused on overthrowing PAS,” he said.

Hisommudin said the situation was very dangerous for PAS if BN wins Putrajaya and becomes the government. 

“If BN wins at the federal level or succeeds in capturing some parliamentary seats (in Terengganu), of course the mood of voters will affect the state.

“It will put pressure on the state government. But if done simultaneously, PAS and PN still have an equal chance,” he said.

Hisommudin said that PAS should also think about the high probability that voters will not cast their ballots twice.

This factor is clearly being considered in Pakatan Harapan (PH), after DAP-governed Penang intends to hold simultaneous elections and requests that the matter be reviewed by the PH presidential council.

“I believe this argument (dissolution) is what they (PAS) are considering and the reason for the tension between them. 

“This includes PH who initially said they didn’t want to dissolve the state assembly but then Penang requested to dissolve, while Negri Sembilan was considering it. 

“Only Selangor (will not dissolve) because the menteri besar has already had an audience with the Selangor sultan on the matter. 

“I believe their action does not involve the interests of the people at all, but more about retaining power,” he said. – October 13, 2022.

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