chapter  4
31 Pages

PAS politics: Defining an Islamic state

ByLIEW CHIN TONG

During the 2004 general elections, the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS, or Malaysian Islamic Party) unexpectedly registered a dire performance, a stunning result given the party’s similarly unanticipated impressive performance in the previous election in 1999. External factors, such as the retirement of the controversial Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister in October 2003, the ascendance of his deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and the declining influence of the Anwar Ibrahim saga – a decisive factor in the 1999 election – undoubtedly played a role in determining the outcome of PAS’ performance in the 2004 general elections. However, the intense internal debate in PAS about the role of Islam in politics and governance is equally, if not more, important in understanding the rapid and unexpected fall of the party.