Friday, 9 May 2014

PAS’ Unit Amal: Key to Winning Hearts & Minds for GE14


(1)    The recent anti-GST rally was memorable for many reasons. One of the main ones which come to mind is PAS’ Unit Amal. Recognisable by their red uniform and pretty cool berets, they are the peacekeeping or welfare ‘troops’ of PAS. Read on for my analysis of this hearts+minds winning move.
Unit Amal - all ages and sizes. Picture copyright The Star.

(2)    At the anti-GST rally, their role was to ensure that the rally proceeded peacefully, and that participants adhered to the deal that no one would enter Dataran Merdeka, even their PAS supporters.

(3)    By and large, they did a good job. They handled traffic, managed the crowd, helped old ladies cross the road, ‘protected’ Dataran Merdeka, and even picked up litter strewn around the protest areas.

(4)    Yes, there were some skirmishes that shone an unfavourable light upon the Unit Amal ( Allegedly, one of their members punched a youth who was trying to get passed them and into Dataran Merdeka, and this led to a skirmish between the groups. Well, if the person was trying to stop the demonstrator from breaking the deal, then maybe he deserved the punch.

(5)    The exceptional skirmish aside, the message sent was that PAS’ Unit Amal are professional, disciplined, kind, religious, courteous and are willing to help all Malaysians, regardless of race of religion in the exercising of their freedoms. This is a winning formula for the hearts and minds of Malaysian voters.

(6)    At the end of the GST-rally, demonstrators were seen shaking hands with members of the Unit Amal, thanking them for their work and effort. Organisers could be heard on their loudspeakers offering their gratitude to the Unit Amal.


(7)    Founded in 1991 under PAS Youth, Unit Amal claims to have about 3000 members aged 18 and above. They are trained from leaders within their communities, including teachers and ex-soldiers. Those aged 13-17 may join the Amal Brigade, while those 7-12 can be members of the Amal Cadet Group.

(8)    It’s like PAS’ very own version of the boy scouts. Apparently the movement exists in schools in Kelantan too. Source:

(9)    I couldn’t find an official page aside from which contains some information on the Unit Amal, but it appears that it hasn’t been updated for a while. A Google search of the keyword “Unit Amal PAS” led to multiple pages of various Unit Amal chapters (according to state). Clearly, the Unit Amal is well organised and has a presence.


(10)      It appears that the Unit Amal will assist anyone, regardless of religion or race – and political ideology.

(11)      During Teresa Kok’s ‘Onederful Malaysia’ fiasco, the unit offered to protect her after she received death threats ( The same was extended to Ambiga Sreenevasan during the BERSIH 3.0 rally (see 11.10am

I suppose it's difficult for BN to have such a unit - because principally they are against protests - so it's unlikely that their volunteers will be seen at such events. But this puts them at a disadvantage.
(12)      Also,  It was reported that the Unit Amal sent members to protect churches which were under threat of Molotov cocktail attacks at the height of the 2010 Allah issue (cant find source at the moment but i know it happened)

(13)      In this article in The Malaysian Insider (, the Unit Amal were credited with deeds such as being on-hand and on-site to assist victims of last-year’s floods. According to the report, this worried BN because the Unit Amal were able to capture the hearts and minds of many rural folk – BN’s traditional voter-base.

They Clean Up Too! 
(14)      Unsurprisingly, BN should be worried.


(15)      What the Unit Amal is doing reminds me of how Hamas operated once upon a time before coming into power in Gaza. Their historical victory during the Palestinian elections back in 2006, when they disposed of Fatah (aka or the PLO), the party of the late and revered Yasser Arafat, was surprising but not totally unexpected (

(16)      Hamas had, since the mid-1980s, set out on a well-organised welfare campaign where they provided education, food, shelter and protection to many Palestinians within the Gaza territory. This effort ran side by side with their militancy efforts, but were largely kept apart (i.e. there was no forced subscription of Palestinian youth into their armed wing).

(17)      The children whom they took care of and raised, the community who were protected and fed by them, the parents who saw hope in change, and the people who were jaded by the corruption in the PLO, eventually became ardent Hamas supporters, and they enjoy strong support even until today.  

(18)      In no such manner am I saying that Hamas = Unit Amal, but their approach in winning the hearts and minds of the people are similar.

What a coincidence that their flag is the same colour as PAS's... 

(19)      The unique thing about the Unit Amal is that their contributions are being recognised by all walks of the society – the urbanites, rural folk, Malays, Chinese, Indians, etc. etc.

(20)      There’s even a growing perception that they are more competent and trustworthy (or not as ‘tainted’) than the police force (which unfortunately suffers the perception of being too pro-BN).

(21)      On the other hand, it’s hard to find BN or UMNO volunteers of this nature. Instead, the perception and reputation that has been forged by volunteers of the BN is one of ruffian-ism, authoritarianism, selfishness and not-very-helpful. I doubt the BN is in fact all that. But politics is about perception.

(22)      Having ‘Satria BN’, which is made up of youth who are rowdy and loud, doesn’t win you any support, but instead, it scares people away.

(23)      Perhaps UMNO needs to start its own Unit Amal, with a strong moral and ethical code, is disciplined, and above all is kind and helpful to the rakyat.
BN has their 'Youth Volunteers'. But they cater to a different audience and for a different purpose.

(24)      The influence of Unit Amal cannot be overlooked. They create a feel-good factor, faith in the leaders that influence them, and trust in that they bring safety and security. They bring along with them a strong religious element, and this, perhaps, above all others, is what BN should be most weary of, particularly concerning their traditional voter base.

(25) Whether this is just PAS playing the politics doesn't matter. Because it's being played well. And above all, seeing well-behaved youth is something that everyone wants. The Unit Amal shows that it works. Heck, it takes a lot of restrain to behave during a demonstration. Whatever PAS is putting into the water, it works! 

(26) If BN doesn’t step up soon, Palestine Elections 2006 may happen come GE14, especially within the UMNO heartland of voters.

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