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What do young people in Kelantan think of PAS? We ask 6 of them

*This story was translated to English from BM. Click here to read the original article on SOSCILI.

Ask any Malaysian urbanite what they think of Kelantan and many of them would probably answer that it’s like the city of Agrabah….the city of wuut? Aladdin’s home town la.


Welcome to Kelaaa…Agrabah

But apart from the odd road trip to the culturally rich state to buy keropok lekor, what do urbanites know? They don’t see everything, hear everything, taste, feel, touch, or smell everything like the original born-and-bred Kelantanese do. Kelantan has been the Islamic PAS government’s stronghold for 26 years since they took over in 1990. Obviously, if they’ve been in power that long, it’s hard to argue that the party definitely enjoys the support of the older generation of Kelantanese (these are the folks who secured PAS’s landslide victory in the ’90 elections).

But what about the YOUNG people? What do they think of their state administration? To find out, we asked 6 young, 20-something Kelantanese to spill the beans. We are aware this is a small number of people so it shouldn’t be assumed that everyone in the state feels the same way. But still, it gives some insight into the thoughts of young Kelantanese people on topics such as…


1. What do they think of PAS and their leadership?


Image from

Although PAS only took over in 1990, they buka kedai in Kelantan since 1959. That’s a long history! But recently, the party has been going through a number of problems, such as dissent within the party leading to a split, and Amanah being formed (with several key PAS members leaving to join Amanah). Then out of nowhere, PAS seems to want to work with its old enemy UMNO. Also, their hudud bill is still in limbo.

With all these masalah, has it lost PAS the support of the rakyat? Zaid Ibrahim (prominent lawyer and former law minister), who is from Kota Baru, Kelantan himself, predicts PAS rule might be reaching its end…but what do our young Kelantan friends say?

“So far it’s been ok la, because to us PAS suits our style. Some more the late Tok Guru [Nik Aziz] is a PAS member, so we also support them la.” – Karim, 25 years old

Tok Guru has always been the man Kelantanese people both young and old look up to, as most of us know. Thousands gathered to pay their respects when he passed away in Feb 2015. It’s interesting to note that his influence is still strongly felt even among some young people, so much so that they would still support PAS, even though he has passed on.


Nik Aziz, known affectionately as Tok Guru. Image from

“From the time we were born, PAS has been ruling, so we can’t make any comparisons. There are some people who believe that if UMNO rules, maybe we would have more money for the rakyat, but we don’t agree with UMNO ruling Kelantan because we believe in PAS.” – Amirah, 23 years old

“I am ok la, coz if you want to argue about social problems, you see that everywhere else anyway. And if we succeed also it’s not necessarily mainly because of the party [PAS].” – Al Pyam (he chose this name himself), 28 years old

“I feel that the PAS administration in Kelantan is good because it provides a nice check and balance*. But to really benefit the rakyat, I believe that the opposition and federal government have to work together.” – Zul, 28 years old

*A “check and balance” in this context means that having PAS presence balances out the power between the political parties. This is to ensure no one party becomes too powerful.


Could this be what Zul dreams of seeing one day? PAS and BN literally holding hands? Hasan Mahmod (left) from PAS with bersama Abdul Aziz Yusof and Nozula Mat Diah from BN. Image from Utusan.

“Doesn’t matter who rules, as long as the administration does not break Allah’s laws.” – Kimi, 28 years old

However, one guy didn’t share the same view as the other five:

“So far Kelantan has a lot of rules and restrictions. Sometimes it limits modernization, thus narrowing people’s minds. Usually what they feed is Islamic stuff, so people just follow and believe only.” – Nik Helmi, 27 years old

Okie, so far five of them are satisfied with the PAS government despite the recent ongoing issues, though Nik Helmi would prefer if they could loosen up a bit for the sake of development. Speaking of development…


2. What development would they like to see in Kelantan?


Do Kelantanese people really want their state to look like a Star Wars movie setting?

Throughout PAS’s administration, development in the state has been considerably slow compared to the rest of Malaysia. PAS blames the federal government for failing to build public housing in the state since they won the elections in 1990 – in fact, a few projects built under BN in the 1980s (such as the Buluh Kubu and Dusun Raja flats) are in desperate need of a makeover, or better yet, replaced completely. Critics however blame PAS for “wrong priorities”, stating that they’re only interested in approving condos and apartments, rather than prioritizing public housing.

Actually, if you see the late Nik Aziz’s house, you kinda have an idea that they prefer the simple life:


Nik Aziz’s home in Kampung Pulau Melaka. In his 23 years as Menteri Besar, he never once chose to live in the Menteri Besar’s official residence. Image from

So, are our Kelantan friends 100% fine with what they have now, or would they like to see some more development in their state? Would they like an MRT line? Want another airport? Banjir-proof houses maybe?

“If can, I would like to see proper housing and for them to fix the potholes on our roads. Also what’s important is to have more job opportunities.” – Karim

“Until now we’ve only been focusing on Kota Baru. We would like to see other places being developed, like Machang, Pasir Mas, Pasir Puteh, etc.” – Amirah

“I feel that we should focus more on developing society. In times of desperation, people will start looking for opportunities. A lot of successful businesses coming from the East Coast were born out of hard times. So, they want to develop the state, they should make sure it is in line with what the residents want.” – Zul

“As a Kelantanese, I admit that cleanliness is a big problem here, especially the drainage system. One time, I entered a public toilet and there was sh*t everywhere.” – Al Pyam

Again Nik Helmi sees room for improvement:

“Oh I’m jealous of Johor.” – Nik Helmi


Johor is more modern than Kelantan, less hectic than KL. Image

Besides Kelantan, we bet a few other states are also a bit jealous of Johor because of the Iskandar development and four more new projects (the Forest City, High-Speed ​​Rail, Gemas-Johor Baru electrified double tracking, and the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex). Essentially Nik Helmi and Amirah would like it to be slightly more developed like Johor or the Klang Valley, but not until so busy like KL.


3. Do they agree with the implementation of hudud?

BUKIT MERTAJAM, 6 Mei -- Hari terakhir kempen Pilihan Raya Kecil (PRK) Parlimen Permatang Pauh dicemari dengan pertengkaran di antara penyokong ulama PAS yang menganggap calon PKR, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail sebagai penentang Hudud, dengan penyokong calon PKR itu, di sini hari ini. PRK Permatang Pauh akan berlangsung esok susulan penyandang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PKR) hilang kelayakan sebagai wakil rakyat ekoran menjalani hukuman penjara lima tahun bagi sabitan meliwat. --fotoBERNAMA (2015) HAKCIPTA TERPELIHARA

Image from

The hot topic on every Kelantanese’s lips right now is hudud. We’re sure most of ugaiz have a general understanding of what hudud is, but if you want to brush up on your knowledge, read about it here.

But did you know that PAS set up a special team to materialize hudud as far back as 1993? In fact, PAS made a name for itself and won the 1959 elections because of their Islamic ideology. They are pretty bent on getting this law passed not just in the state but across the whole country as well. So far, they’ve managed to implement small, small things like controlling youths lepaking during maghrib (dawn).


What hudud would entail for certain crimes. Image from Malay Mail

But hudud is controversial and a lot of Malaysians continue to protest against it, including moderate Muslims. What do our young interviewees think?

“At the moment, I support hudud, but if they want to go all out such as cutting off hands, I cannot really support that because I’m worried that it may be unfair. What if all the poor people only get punished? What about those in a position of power? Another thing is, why only implement this in Kelantan? If anything goes wrong, Kelantan alone will be blamed. So if we want to do this, we should implement hudud nationwide, but in my opinion, I don’t think we are ready for it.” – Karim

“I fully support hudud. Yes la because we are a Muslim country, so I would want it to be implemented.” – Amirah

“We’ve been debating about hudud for a long time and seeing as how Kelantan is one of the states that has the highest number of syariah cases, I hope hudud can deter all that.” – Zul

“There is a lot of things we need to research on regarding hudud. Not that I don’t support it but we have to see if it’s appropriate for the times.” – Nik Helmi

“Personally I 100% agree that we should apply hudud not only in Kelantan, but the whole country. However, most people don’t know or understand what hudud is about, so they’re quick to criticize.” – Al Pyam

The consensus is that they WANT hudud to be implemented, but they want the authorities to make sure it is done right.

MACC names 41 entities that received 1MDB money. Here's a cheatsheet to 40 of them

(BTW, if you want to know what non-Muslims Kelantanese people think of hudud, click here and here.)


4. Are they worried about crime in Kelantan?


Karim (not his real name) feels safe in Kelantan, even if stats show crime levels are high

Kelantan has the lowest average monthly income in Malaysia at RM3,175, based on statistics (you can download it from On top of that, unemployment keeps increasing every year! But the reason this is worrying is because poverty rate affects crime rate according to research from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). CILISOS recently wrote about how poverty is causing 4 in 10 Malaysian Indians to drop out of school and eventually turn to a life of crime.

Strangely, despite reports showing the rise in crime in Kelantan, our interviewees didn’t seem fazed:


Our interviewee Amirah

“I feel safe. No problem. I would dare to walk out to the shops alone. If you ask me, Neelofa could even walk alone there because we don’t have that many problems. As far as break-ins and robbery go, we have that as usual. Then again all states also have that problem, so it’s mainly social problems that are bad now.” – Karim

“Nothing. Ok only. Maybe because I’m used to it, so I don’t feel that it’s dangerous.” – Kimi

“I feel like it’s ok for me. No problems.” – Amirah

“Drugs are everywhere. After all, Kelantan is next to Thailand. But everything can be resolved.” – Al Pyam

“You’ve seen those viral videos, some of them are sure from Kelantan. But the person doing that is not necessarily bad. Maybe there is a reason why they act that way.” – Zul

Nik Helmi, who is from Machang, disagrees:

“At night, at a few places, all the shops are closed. So it’s quite cowboy at night. So at night I won’t go out because it’s easy for me to be a victim of theft.” – Nik Helmi


5. Do they feel like they have been sidelined by the federal government?


Image from

As we mentioned earlier, Kelantan complained that the federal government sidelines them so they don’t have the budget to develop public housing. (This is the same problem faced by states under the opposition party too, Penang and Selangor, as a sort of “punishment” on the rakyat for not voting for the ruling party, in PKR’s words.)

Not long ago, Malaysiakini wrote that Kelantan folk thanked the federal government for the RM600 million financial aid to upgrade their water system, even though the Menteri Besar revealed it wasn’t enough since the project’s estimated cost is RM2 billion. Additionally, the federal government has been aiming to increase their support in Kelantan – something they’ve openly stated – by allocating a further RM60 million to build a bridge, among other development projects.

So, apalagi orang Kelantan mau? 😀

“Of course we would like more funding from the federal government. For example, the government built the LPT (Lebuhraya Pantai Timur) up to Terengganu only. To extend it to Kelantan, we have to use our own money.” – Karim

“Yeah la, if possible we would like help from the federal government. If we expect to bear everything ourselves we can’t.” – Amirah

“YES! But we can’t really complain a lot seeing as we’re all happy. I have not heard Kelantan people asking to build KLIA or KLCC here.” – Al Pyam


Kelantan struck oil, but had little to celebrate. Image from

“Can also, if the federal government wants to give aid. I don’t think we have the budget to pay for everything. Some more we don’t get oil royalties.” – Kimi

Kelantan and the federal government have been battling over oil royalties for a long time. Whatever oil korek-ed near Kelantan has profited the federal government, but the state receives nothing because the federal government stated that the oil locations are more than three nautical miles offshore, therefore the state’s right to royalties does not apply. In an effort to win Kelantan’s support, Dr. Mahathir promised them that they would get oil royalties if they can defeat the BN government.

Zul on the other hand has a different opinion about why the federal gomen don’t give Kelantan more money:

“Yes and no. Maybe some people are confused with the political agenda. Some of the budget is rejected or cut because they [the federal government] doesn’t have enough money and not because it’s a political issue. Whatever it is, both governments and parties should prioritize the needs of the rakyat.” – Zul


6. If Kelantan becomes like KL, will they move away?


Kelantan becoming like KL? Time to move to Perlis!

Kelantanese flers often travel to other states in search of employment. Perhaps it’s because there is not enough development, plus the unemployment rate is high so it shows got not enough opportunities either.

YET, if you were to ask them if they want their home turf to change, they would prolly sing, “Don’t you ever wish you were someone else, You were meant to be the way you are exactly“. Do they really think Kelantan is perfect the way it is?

“I would like Kelantan to retain its traditions. If it becomes like KL, it wouldn’t be special any more. I’m scared we will lose our traditions if we become too modern like KL.” – Karim

“I would move back INTO Kelantan if there are more job opportunities there.” – Nik Helmi

“I’ve never thought of moving away.” – Amirah

“Hahaha, this is difficult to answer. Maybe I would move if it’s more profitable and if there are job opportunities.” – Al Pyam

“If it becomes like Penang or KL, I wouldn’t like that, but if it could advance like Johor, that would be ok.” – Kimi

“I think I prefer KL because of the opportunities. Whatever investment that comes to the East Coast is always being injected into the agricultural sector.” – Zul


So yeahhh, young people are more or less happy with the way Kelantan is!


The Kelantan pride is strong in them. Image from

If we had assumed people who are young and in their 20s would have a general affinity towards modernization, tall buildings, and a Starbucks in every corner, these 6 interviewees certainly proved us wrong. Kelantanese are really proud of their state and they love it the way it is.

Sure they said it would be nice if the federal government could show a bit more TLC, so that they could progress sikit-sikit like Johor, but they absolutely don’t want it to end up like KL. They are people who hold on to culture, tradition, and the Kelantan identity; which is quite rare in this day and age.

As Amirah put it, for her, their support of PAS is something of tradition as well, especially since they’ve grown up with PAS’s style of administration and have no other frame of reference unless they leave the state. Too much change too fast can be a scary thing, and in a way PAS is seen as an “anchor” to keep things going at a familiar rate.

In fact, if BN’s 50+ year rule is any indication, it’s not just Kelantan, but most of the country is perfectly happy sticking with what they know, rather than finding out if the grass is greener (or browner) on the other side?

After all, life isn’t a Disney movie so there aren’t any magic carpets to show us the world. And not everyone wants to buy a plane ticket ohoho


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