Malaysia State Elections: PAS Takes the Lead, Innovates Voter Outreach with TikTok

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malaysia state elections pas takes the lead, innovates voter outreach with tiktok

As Malaysia gears up for the state elections in August 2023, political parties are engaged in intense campaigning to secure crucial votes. The spotlight is on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s coalition government as it faces formidable challenges in maintaining its hold over the states. 

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has emerged as a major contender, leveraging its popularity among young voters through innovative social media strategies, particularly on TikTok. The conservative brand of Malay-Muslim identity politics will shake up Ibrahim’s multi-ethnic coalition, which includes Umno. 

The ruling Unity Government is likely to see the supporters of Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) transfer their votes to their former political rivals in the six states which chose not to dissolve their state assemblies in 2022 when the federal elections were held. Sources say the results will influence the thinking within Umno of the strategic advantages of working with PH in future elections. According to FULCRUM, it will also affect the overall confidence of UMNO leaders and grassroots members in the UMNO president and Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi. 

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Abdul Malik, PAS’ Kelantan deputy youth chief, says faith and public service are intertwined, fundamental for a generation eager to contribute to the progress of the state. “How the state government rules align with our educational teaching. It’s not about stagnation or rejecting development. Rather, the leadership emphasizes a holistic approach that encompasses both the physical and spiritual aspects of our lives.” 

Established in 1951, PAS strives to form an Islamic state – that is built on Islamic values such as promoting moral conduct, upholding social justice, and championing economic equity. Syaza Farhana Mohamad Shukri, as associate professor of political science at the International Islamic University Malaysia, believes there is growing conservatism among the Malays. This is more in terms of identity rather than actual practice. “That is why even non-practising Malays are comfortable voting for PAS. 

The party’s youth wing has taken to TikTok to reach out to millions of like-minded voters. It has managed to strike a chord with the younger generation by adopting a tech-savvy approach. PAS has skillfully used TikTok to share its message, connect with the youth, and organize virtual events – creating a sense of inclusivity and engagement that resonates with the young voters. 

Not to be left behind, the ruling coalition is also actively engaging with voters through various social media platforms, highlighting their achievements and promoting their vision for the future. likewise, opposition parties are harnessing social media to criticize the government’s policies and appeal to the concerns of different voter segments.

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