Landslide victory for PAS in Kelantan

PAS has strengthened its hold on Kelantan with an almost clean sweep of the state. Official results showed that the Islamist party clinched 38 of the 45 state seats, which gives it a two-thirds majority victory. PKR won one state seat.
In 2004, PAS won the state by only a two-seat margin with razor-thin victories in a number of seats. This time around, the majority ranges in the thousands, compared to single and double digit wins in 2004. PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat (Chempaka), vice-president Datuk Husam Musa (Salor) and Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (Bunut Payung) all won their state seats.
As for the parliamentary seats, PAS and PKR, which have an electoral pact, swept 12 of the 14 seats: PKR won in Tanah Merah, Ketereh and Machang. PAS strategist Datuk Abdul Wan Rahim Wan Abdullah beat Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s political secretary Datuk Fatmi Salleh to take the Kota Baru parliamentary seat with a thumping majority of 11,288 votes. Barisan Nasional’s top pick Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin lost the contest for the Bachok parliamentary seat to PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa. Dr Awang also failed to wrest the Perupok state seat from incumbent Datuk Omar Mohammed. Another top leader who took a beating was state Barisan chairman Datuk Annuar Musa, who was denied the Ketereh parliamentary seat by newbie Ab Aziz Ab Kadir from PKR.
PKR strategist Saifuddin Nasution Ismail beat incumbent Datuk Sazmi Miah by 1,460 votes to gain the Machang parliamentary seat. Former Umno leader Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who was sacked from the party, will be back in Parliament. He contested in Pasir Mas under a PAS ticket and defeated his Umno opponent Ahmad Rosdi Mahmud by 8,991 votes.
PAS also made significant inroads into Barisan strongholds. In Gua Musang, PAS took the Galas state seat and in Kuala Krai, it claimed the Guchil, Mengkebang, Dabong and Manek Urai state seats. Umno’s Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Datuk Mustapa Mohamed retained their Gua Musang and Jeli parliamentary seats respectively. Mustapa secured a majority of 4,436 votes, while Tengku Razaleigh won by 4,394 votes. Dr Awang Adek, who was the Barisan’s choice to lead the state should the coalition wrest the state from PAS, said he would take a rest from politics. “We have been badly defeated in Kelantan. We have to respect the decision of the people,” he said. “The results are shocking because of the extent of our defeat.” Jeli MP Mustapa said: “The decision of the people in Kelantan was unexpected based on the feedback that we received. We were told that we were gaining ground and now we are back to square one.” State Umno Information head Datuk Md Alwi Che Ahmad, who won the Kok Lanas state seat, said all in Umno including himself must take full responsibility for the heavy defeat in Kelantan. Md Alwi, however, expected the coalition to bounce back. PAS secured its first state seat (Kijang) unopposed on nomination day when the Barisan candidate was disqualified because he was a bankrupt.
Kelantan Mentri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat hailed the "tsunami" of electoral support for the party in a victory speech that reflected its inclusive new approach. "The people who are not Muslim, the Chinese, the Indians and (other minorities) now clearly accept our Islamic governance despite attempts by the BN's throwing of money and promises of development," he said. Political analyst Tricia Yeoh (right) said PAS' greater acceptance of minorities was key to its success. "This signalled their need for support from non-Muslim voters who did not disappoint them, and backed what is an essentially Islamic government," said Yeoh, from the Centre for Public Policy Studies thinktank.
Chinese and Indians living in Kelantan, which PAS has ruled for 18 years, mostly have few complaints and say they are free to practice their religions and cultural traditions. In a concession to minorities, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said its new government in Kedah would give seats on its ruling committee to non-Muslims. "We will offer two state exco posts to non-Muslims in the Kedah state government to recognise the role they played in our victory," he said.
Hadi Awang said there would not be any dramatic changes for non-Muslims in the new PAS-ruled Kedah, unlike when it took over Kelantan in 1990, and it intended to respect minority rights. "Whatever we (restrict), it will be in consultation with the various races living in these states," he said. "Whatever is allowed by their religion we will not interfere in but what is banned in Islam, we will forbid for Muslims."
"Being the party of Islamic scholars, PAS will now have to tread a much more moderate line in ensuring that they can form a coalition with the DAP," he said. "If they can do this, there will for the first time be a viable opposition coalition facing off the government in parliament," he added.
PAS vice-president Husam Musa said the opposition parties, including former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim's PKR, must put their differences aside. "We must now try and unify and bring the races together and to pursue a more mainstream agenda," he said.

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