Whatever happened to the spirit of ‘Pas for All’, wonders Syerleena Abdul Rashid.
It is most unsettling that Pas president Abdul Hadi Awang would continue to demonise DAP in such an uncouth manner by using religion and race to push through his party’s far right-wing agenda.
Given the present stream of hateful rhetoric out there, it is only inevitable and expected that some politicians much like Hadi would exploit the conservative political agenda that only reinforces Umno’s divide and rule tactic.
Recently, through Utusan Malaysia, Pas president Abdul Hadi Awang had called for the unification of Malays to oppose opposition party DAP, which, according to him, “has bigger plans, more than just controlling the economy” – insinuating that the Muslim Malays in this country will suffer great oppression in the hands of a ‘Chinese chauvinist’ party.
As slanderous as it sounds, remarks like these verify the intricacies of fear-mongering by unscrupulous political leaders, and this is extremely harmful.
Malaysians must understand that proponents of conservative views necessitate rational discourse based on facts that are absolutely free from emotions and pious fervour. Malaysia is in fact a multicultural country where Islam and Malay rights are protected in our federal constitution.
According to 2013 statistics, there are about 19.5m Muslims which make up a little over 61 per cent of the current population. Correspondingly to the Malaysian federal constitution, Article 3 declares that “Islam is the religion of the Federation but does not affect the other provisions of the Constitution” such as Article 4(3).
Article 32 transparently points out that the Malaysian head of state, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, is a constitutional monarch, in addition to states like Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perak, Perlis, Selangor, Johor and Negri Sembilan, which have constitutional Malay monarchs.
Both Articles 39 and 40 describe the executive powers that are vested in the Agong, who, everyone understands, serves as the head of Islamic affairs.
Therefore, based on these articles enshrined in our federal constitution, pursuing the secular, anti-Malay/Muslim agenda, as asserted by Hadi Awang, is fallacious and unsubstantiated.
However, present day Malaysians (mostly from the urban and semi-urban areas) are aware of how the centre-left – in this case, the DAP – is often demonised and vilified by mainstream media (a majority of these outlets are owned by wealthy right-wing factions), which often paint the party as being one that is horrendously Chinese-dominated, ultra-chauvinist to boot and bent on pursuing a secular agenda.
According to the far right, pushing through the secular agenda will see the absolute destruction of Islam and the corrosion of Malay rights in this country, which makes any sound-minded Malaysian scoff at the irony of such a pretext. Such assumptions are obviously based on lies and invented to create fear amongst gullible Malaysians.
But we are fully aware of how divided some Malaysian communities are; racial polarisation is, in fact, deeply embedded in our society and manifests itself through our local political landscape.
Such heavily skewed doctrines are made accessible through the use of media and to a larger extent the mainstream media, which are already controlled and heavily managed by the ruling party.
In a time when religious terrorism is at an all-time high, religion should not be used as a tool to create more fear and instil hatred. The message that should have been presented is calling for a united front – irrespective of religion, ethnicity and gender – to put a cap on a government so corrupt and oppressive from orchestrating the destruction of our great nation.
Islam teaches tolerance not hatred and encourages universal brotherhood without hostility. It is a religion that promotes peace and condemns violence.
To Hadi Awang and the rest of the conservative far right – whatever happened to the spirit of ‘Pas for All’ that was voluntarily embraced by non-Muslim members of our society?
After all, promoting the idea and the vision of diversity was the essence of the now defunct Pakatan Rakyat, a task taken up by the new coalition, Pakatan Harapan.
The former coalition had presented hopeful Malaysians a revelation of what our country ought to be like if religion wasn’t a barrier that stood in between us. But events that have unfolded since prove that there are those who walk amongst us that are still uncomfortable with that vision.
The fact is, as our country and, more so, our society, progress further into the 21st Century, the message Malaysians are sending out is clear: racial politics simply has no place in our country and as a nation, we will chip away at the divisional walls that stand in our way.