PAS named today supporters congress president Hu Pang Chow as its man for the Ayer Hitam contest, making him the first non-Muslim candidate to stand under the Islamist party's ticket, a move that could help boost its standing among Malaysia's minorities.
The Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) component party is also expected to name two more non-Muslim candidates soon. Hus's deputy N. Balasubramaniam and central working committee member Richard Wong are likely to contest Pahang and Malacca respectively.
"I will be the first time PAS is fielding a non-Muslim for a straight fight for a parliamentary seat.
"I am brining this message of PAS for all," Hu told The Malaysian Insider in an immediate response to the announcement mate by PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat this morning.
Ayer Hitam's incumbent is MCA Youth chief and interim deputy education minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong who won the Malay majority seat with a landslide majority of 13,909 votes against PAS's Hussin Sujak in Election 2008.
However, the majority Wee garnered was less than the numbers he mustered in 2008. The reduction signalled decrease Chinese support towards the MCA, a steadily growing trend reflected nationwide.
Banking on this, PR is now aiming to dent Barisan Nasional's (BN) bastion state of Johor by fielding in heavyweights like DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang who will be contesting MCA's Gelang Patah seat as it pushes for more federal seats.
Johor is seen as MCA's last standing ground after it was nearly annihilated in the historic 2008 elections. Out of the 32 seats it contested, it won only 15 and a third of it came from Johor. Even so, the victories depended heavily on Malay support.
Hu is confident that he would join the list of candidates that would wipe out MCA in Johor
"I will be a giant killer in Ayer Hitam," said Hu, a Christian Chinese.
Meanwhile Balasubramaniam told that he is likely to contest a federal seat in Pahang while Wong will stand for the Asahan state seat in Malacca.
"It has not been announced. Maybe Monday," he said.
Since last year, PAS, a founding partner of PR, has been on a vigorous rebranding exercise by making the PAS Supporters Club a part of the party's "dewan" or congress as well as recruiting former senior civil servants and businessmen.
It has also selected some of them to run for public office in the May 5 polls.
While the move was lauded by many, some political pundits believe the changes could affect the party's original supporters who had fought for a different policy and goal.
It is understood that PAS grassroots are unsettled by the party's wobbly stand on the "Allah" controversy where many of its conservative followers felt non-Muslims should not be allowed to use the Arabic term to describe their gods.
The dichotomy on the national fiasco drew flak from some non-Muslims opposition supporters, which threatened to withdraw support.
PAS leadership immediately issued a fatwa allowing non-Muslims to use the term but said attempts to translate it in religious text to confuse Muslims is prohibited.
With umno castrating every coalition member for non-performance, it's refreshing indeed, to see PAS braving what is the biggest election since independence to field, not a Malay, Indian or Chinese, but a Malaysian!!!
Good moved by PAS!! They deserved the salutation!! Lets finish off wee ka siong reign in Ayer itam this time. Lets make this as part of history, 2008 penang captured!! 2013 johor captured!! Whack mca out of johor this time!! We can do it..
This is a good development for PAS towards "Malaysian-isation", and to instill a sense of mutual acceptance differing religious allegiance. PR pact will lead to a more harmonized Malaysia.
Time to be PROPER MALAYSIANS and not in name only from Barisan. Time for inclusiveness and not divisiveness preached by Barisan.! ABU.!