By Phlip Rodrigues
Pas president Hadi Awang is at his best when playing the race and religion cards against his political opponents and the multi-ethnic groups in Malaysia.
This ‘holy man’ is growing more strident and intolerant by the day in his denunciation of political foes he perceives as immoral and corrupt.
He appears to be driven by an inner uncontrollable impulse that hints of extremism.
He certainly holds extreme views about the political direction his party must take in the coming years, and it all points ultimately to a single-minded goal: the setting up of a state governed strictly along religious lines.
This government by ‘divine guidance’ is most probably what Hadi has in mind whenever he indulges in moralistic musings. He thinks the country is spiritually in bad shape and only Pas can lead the way towards moral rejuvenation.
As seen through Pas’ lenses, the outside world looks bleak and hopeless. Look at all those people in the opposition ranks: they have no morals; they give and take bribes. Just look at them: believers and non-believers rubbing shoulders while trying to fix all the national ills. These non-believers think a secular approach will solve all problems or that politics can be separated from religion without provoking the wrath of God.
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Not only are the political foes impure and unprincipled, even the multi-ethnic groups are not spared Hadi’s sweeping condemnation: he blames them all for being the “root cause of corruption”.
The way Hadi is going about with his virulent attacks on non-Muslims would lead one to think that his party is composed of angels and saints who are therefore most qualified to rule the nation.
Hadi pours more religion into politics in the belief that only his party’s version of ethical values must inform the conduct and thinking of any political consideration and, in most cases, must be the pre-eminent guiding light in every sphere of life.
But this blinkered approach can only do more harm than good in a multi-racial country.
Many others believe that every religion is worthy of respect.
But if a religious or political leader puts forward fanatical views and refuses to coexist with people of other faiths, it would surely invite social disquiet.
Hadi and his followers are certainly no divine figures sent out on a mission purportedly of salvation to Malaysia. They are mere human beings whose feet are made of clay and who got involved in politics – and political mudslinging to further their political and religious agenda.
There seem to be only two colours in Hadi’s mind: black and white. It would seem that, to him, black represents the non-believers with all their ‘misguided’ practices and beliefs, while white stands for Pas and its associated links to purity and holiness.
Thus, it appears that, for Hadi, those not on his side are against his pronouncements of God, nation and morality. So, they must be ‘bad’ people who cannot take centre-stage in the Malaysian sun.
But this stern-looking ulama does not have the last word on moral standards. He is not the ultimate arbiter of human rights and wrongs. He cannot play God with the people.
Hadi should realise that many others out there believe that everyone is created by God and hence they are God’s people – whether they are in suits, with turbans, bearded or clean-shaven.
Phlip Rodrigues is a former journalist