KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — The so-called "green wave" used to describe PAS' gains in the 15th general election was not a drastic phenomenon and was a result of steady momentum over the years, Iman Research said in its research.
The think tank in its study titled "Election Sentiments Analysis of Malaysia’s 15th General Election” released yesterday, said the Islamist party benefited from reaching out to new, young voters and also from the lack of resistance from Pakatan Harapan (PH),
"The results in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu where PAS and Perikatan Nasional (PN) captured most of the seats could not have been just a coincidence. As early as September , PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang stated that they are targeting Malay-Muslim youth both male and female who are 'jahil' about Islam and let alone on politics, to vote for PAS," the report said, using the word meaning "ignorant".
"In fact, going back to GE14, we could already see the gains by PAS in the East Coast-Northern belt of Peninsular Malaysia. This so-called ‘green wave’ started back then, and with the lack of presence of PH in this region, and the lack of key PH figures where most of them are based in the West Coast and urban areas, PAS and by extension PN emerged as a viable alternative to BN."
It also pointed out how PAS and PN benefited from Malay-Muslim issues dominating the election, resulting in at least 10 political parties promoting Malay nationalism during campaigning.
"With newer Malay-Muslim-based parties getting involved in the general election, championing Malay-Muslim issues, the political rhetoric has been skewed further to the right and becoming more conservative and identity-based.
"Each party is projecting themselves as being morally more superior than the other, while accusing their rivals as being morally-corrupt. And as we got into the second week of campaigning, there have been less talks about the party manifestos in the 'ceramah', but issues on morality have taken centre stage,” it said.
The think tank also reported that social media played a role in amplifying the Malay nationalism narrative, particularly on TikTok by PN which analysts have since believed was effective towards first-time voters.
Iman Research highlighted that the effect was obvious especially when PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin falsely accused PH of conspiring with the Jews and Christians to convert Malay-Muslims in Malaysia.
In GE15, PAS won 27 seats by contesting under PN’s logo, with 22 more as part of clean sweeps in Kelantan and Terengganu under its own logo.
Iman Research focuses on the domains of protective security, peacebuilding and sustainable development, with experts in sectors of preventing and countering violent extremism, ethnoreligious issues, social policy and community resilience.
The think tank conducted the latest research through news reports and interviews nationwide prior to and during the GE15 campaigning period.