WHEN PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang says Malaysians can learn from Sabah and Sarawak, where the two states’ diverse peoples have lived in harmony for so long, it’s a recognition of our long-standing culture and tradition of respecting diversity in our state.
PAS, he said, recognised the advantages of a multi-cultural and multi-racial society, and that there were lessons to be learnt from the diverse peoples of Sabah and Sarawak on managing relations.
Abdul Hadi also spoke of the need to maintain harmony in Malaysia and hit out at political parties that were competing to go against efforts to strengthen Islamic principles.
This is where we will have to depart from Abdul Hadi’s niceties.
There is always a tendency for PAS to go off tangent after making conciliatory statements.
East Malaysian political parties are Barisan Nasional component members representing different multi-racial and multi-religious groups and I cannot find any evidence that any of these parties are against efforts to strengthen Islamic principles.
Their voters just do not want to live under a restrictive “Taliban” government that curtails religious freedom.
Perhaps Abdul Hadi is not aware of the Batu Sumpah (Oath Stone) erected in Keningau by the natives of Sabah on which the Federal Government is now spending RM1.23mil to give it a rightful place in history.
The guarantees of freedom of religion and to respect and uphold native customs and tradition chiselled on the Oath Stone were to complement the Malaysia Agreement 1963. In return, the Sabah natives pledged their loyalty to the Government of Malaysia.
We should ask Abdul Hadi whether the proposed Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (RUU355) and hudud laws are the only way to strengthen Islamic principles. Punishment and fear are not the only way to human redemption.
There are many components of religious life – carrying out your religious obligations peacefully, respect for others and doing good deeds are among them.
Political parties are not the only targets of PAS, which has also declared liberal Muslims as a threat to Islam, and vowed to wipe them out or at least ban them because it will result in the formation of groups among Muslims who will end up fighting one another, according to PAS deputy spiritual leader Ahmad Yaakob.
Yaakob accused “liberal Islam” of being a Western agenda promoted as an alternative to “extreme Islam” which is being portrayed by the media.
Responding to Yaakob’s statement, should “liberal Islam” groups like G25 ask for PAS to be wiped out because the G25 disagree with them?
That would be absurd. Groups are formed in a democratic society because each group has a different opinion or solution to issues facing our society or country.
Yes, many “liberal Muslims” would not like hudud to be introduced in Malaysia because they too don’t want to live in a “Taliban” state.
East Malaysians have reiterated time and again that it’s not what our founding fathers agreed when they formed Malaysia, and we will continue to remind our leaders of our stand.
PAS has a history of using derogatory name-calling of people whom they do not like.
Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has said “Hurling insults has become a culture for them; they attack their enemies using the excuse of defending Islam, including branding other Muslims as kafir (infidels) for giving a different view” but without naming PAS.
Dr Asri added that if the deep-rooted culture of labelling others as infidels and apostates for airing differing views are not addressed, such groups may declare a “war” against infidels if they manage to come to power.
In another example of derogatory name-calling, Abdul Hadi said ties with Barisan and Pakatan Harapan would be like having monitor lizards or “biawak” on their shoulders.
This is like “biting the hands that feed it”, as Hadi was given a rare opportunity by the Government to present his Private Member’s Bill despite outcry from Barisan component members and opposition parties. (Biawak is an unclean animal which eats decaying matter and wastes and the reference is insulting to the ruling coalition and its component members.)
Sarawak has banned people like Ridhuan Tee, Ibrahim Ali and Zakir Naik from delivering talks in the state. By the same token, Sabah and Sarawak should ban PAS leaders from entering both states because of their incendiary language and derogatory name-calling of others who do not subscribe to their views.
If opposition leaders like Tony Pua are banned from entering Sabah, the same must be applied for PAS leaders irrespective of their affiliations. There should not be any discrimination.
With Hadi’s Bill still in the making, east Malaysians should be reminded of what kind of country PAS wants Malaysia to become. Their proven offensive rhetoric, derogatory name-calling, intolerance of other Muslim groups, hudud laws and policies in Kelantan are already a sign of things to come.
PAS is a political party and not a religious organisation; and like any political party, its leaders would do anything to fish for votes.
We should not be lulled into sleep by PAS with its niceties as its leaders are true to their agenda.
DATUK DR JOHAN ARRIFFIN