PAS: No mention in manifesto of turning Malaysia into Islamic state

Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) yesterday said its election manifesto will not mention the controversial pledge to turn Malaysia into an "Islamic state" and will mainly address woes faced by Malaysians, which include cost-of-living issues and reducing the income gap between rural and urban areas.

Leaders of the party told a news conference that it would also ensure the country's legal and administrative systems follow "the requirements of the syariah" (Islamic law) as well as return state rights that they said had been taken away by the federal government.

"The main issues faced by the majority of the people are cost of living, security and national unity," said PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

"These issues affect both Muslims and non-Muslims."

The manifesto - Malaysia Sejahtera (Harmonious Malaysia) - will be launched on Sunday.

Asked whether PAS will mention the term "Islamic state" in its manifesto, party secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said: "We are not using the terminology. Our approach is about a harmonious community... following God's laws".

This is a departure from previous elections when PAS openly championed turning Malaysia into an "Islamic state", which scared off non-Muslim voters.

PAS also said it would form a "third force" in the coming election to contest against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and the opposition pact Pakatan Harapan (PH).

PAS has signed an electoral pact to form Gagasan Sejahtera (Movement of Harmony), with Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia, which will be taking part in its first elections, and Berjasa, a small Islamic party.

PAS has said it aims to win at least 40 seats and become a kingmaker as BN and PH battle for control of Malaysia's 222-member Parliament. It currently holds 13 parliamentary seats.