What started as an online joke to “troll” Islamist party PAS is registering with the Registrar of Societies (RoS) as a political party in Malaysia. Parti Aspirasi Sains Malaysia (SAINS) is now taking a more serious tone as a party with “evidence-based policies backed by science and data”.
“Its mission is to improve equality of opportunities for all Malaysians and push the nation towards the pursuit of knowledge, for the benefit of humanity through continued application of science and reason regardless of ethnicity, gender or religion,” the party said in a statement.
Pro-tem president and founder Kenneth Chai said that the idea for Parti Aspirasi Sains Malaysia came as a parody. Its initials shared the same letters with PAS—Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (or the Malaysian Islamic Party).
“So I was trolling as a PAS member (being sarcastic) in the beginning, commenting on their political decisions and actions. Then one PAS member DM-ed me to stop using their party name, so I just said alright, I’ll start my own party,” Chai explained.
PAS has had their share of controversy. Just in May of this year, the son-in-law of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang claimed that five party leaders had received “bribes” from UMNO in the past, to which PAS then issued a gag order banning members from discussing the issue publicly.
UMNO and PAS formed Muafakat Nasional (MN) after UMNO lost the 2018 general election and became the opposition. The alliance was created with the intention to consolidate Malay voters against the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
“[The parties] are mostly race or religion-based, or to make one person the prime minister kind—and most are full of old men. I think we need a party that transcends all these and provide a platform that focuses on evidence-based policies backed by science and reason, not what colour your skin is, or where your ancestors worship,” said Chai.
SAINS listed eight members of its founding executive body, including Chai. They also boast that 48% of their party members are women, and 52% are east Malaysian. Their mission statement is to “increase equal opportunity for all Malaysians, and push the nation towards the pursuit of knowledge, for the benefit of all of humanity through continued application of science and reason”.
Chai said that they will focus on getting approved by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) because they understand that it will be difficult. Bigger parties such as Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air are still struggling with their registrations.
The policies that the party will focus include building anti-poverty nation, providing guaranteed monthly income for bottom 60 (B60), human-centered economy for a more equitable post-pandemic Malaysia and pushing for sustainable development in line with UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
“If you’re tired of the current political standstill, that’s going nowhere. If you’re sick of the discussion about something you can’t change—your skin colour, your gender—be the change with us, and let us light the tinder of science and reason towards a brighter political future of Malaysia, led by rational political leaders,” continued Chai.