KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — PAS’ International Affairs and External Relations Council chairman Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi has attributed the Islamist party’s victory under Perikatan Nasional (PN) in 49 seats during the 15th general election (GE15) to the social media platform TikTok.
Citing an unnamed analyst, Muhammad Khalil — who is also the son of party president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang — said this showed that political Islam has gained popularity in Malaysia and the “conservative religious politics” of PAS are becoming more attractive among young and first-time voters.
“Preliminary analysis shows that the wave of young voters and Malay voters getting their first-hand information from social media platforms such as TikTok was one of the main factors in PAS’ 49-seat victory,” he wrote in PAS’ news outlet HarakahDaily.
TikTok users in Malaysia increased by 14.4 million in the past two years despite Facebook still having the most users at 21 million users in Malaysia, he added.
Aside from that, he attributed PAS’ win to the change in voting patterns among both existing voters and the inclusion of new voters.
“Analyst claimed that GE15 campaigns and methods, especially those targeting youths, were influenced by the shift to TikTok. They described this as one of the significant component factors of a large shift in the overall pattern,” he said.
The Islamist party had never expected to win more than 10 per cent of the 222 Parliamentary seats, especially with the results of the last three general elections which show that it had only won between 18 and 23 seats, he added.
“Prior to GE15, it was widely accepted that Terengganu, Kelantan, Perlis, and Kedah were the only northern Malay heartlands where PAS and its brand of conservative Islam were most prevalent,” he said.
He pointed to PAS winning two seats in Penang and the Permatang Pauh seat as evidence of Malaysia’s changing political landscape.
With the formation of the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) led federal government, he said that the role of the Opposition acting as a check and balance will fall to Perikatan Nasional (PN), the coalition of which PAS is a component party.
“Looking forward, as part of PN, PAS which has always been seen as a religious and conservative party shall prepare itself as part of government-in-waiting and function diligently as the party which has the most seats in Dewan Rakyat,” he said.
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.