PAS in Malaysia Today: Unpacking the Green Wave
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME
About the Webinar
Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and the coalition to which it belongs, Perikatan Nasional, have been performing well in the polls. PAS was the party that secured the most seats in parliament in the November 2022 general election, and Perikatan Nasional reaffirmed its control over four state governments in August 2023. This has led many observers to suggest that a ‘Green’ or Islamist wave is transforming Malaysia’s political landscape. However, this narrative has the potential to simplify key issues.
First, some commentators have argued that PAS could topple the government and sweep aside Malaysia’s current institutions, and called for the Pakatan Harapan-led government to crack down on the party and its followers. Some of these arguments are problematic and have little grounding in evidence – especially when they refer to the party and its voters as “members of extremist networks.” Should national institutions like political parties and the media circulate these narratives, this could increase distrust and erode confidence in national institutions. It is worth exploring how observers concerned about PAS can explore new ways of countering the party’s political arguments.
In addition, PAS itself is undergoing an important renewal process. This month, the party held its annual general assembly, which reaffirmed the incumbent Abdul Hadi Awang’s presidency for another term. Despite this continuity, there are important changes underway in the party. Although religious scholars (Ulama) have always been at the heart of PAS’s leadership, the party has been gradually promoting non-Ulama as election candidates and senior party officials in order to rejuvenate and expand its membership. Does, then, the new technocratic breed of leaders signal that the Ulama are ready to relinquish stewardship of the party and will it have a moderating effect on the party’s direction?
About the Speakers
Dr Amrita Malhi is a senior development policy adviser and Honorary Senior Lecturer at The Australian National University and Flinders University.
Dr Azmil Tayeb is an Associate Professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia and a Visiting Research Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.
This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.
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