In Malaysia, different rules for different folks?

Analysis by Leslie Lau, The Malaysian Insider

In deciding against an outright ban on the sale of beer in Shah Alam, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government in Selangor may have inadvertently stood up against an enclave-style thinking that both Umno and PAS appear to advocate.

What started out as a minor issue — the unlawful seizure of beer by Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam (MBSA) officers — has now raised the issue of whether there should be special rules and legislation for Muslim-majority neighbourhoods.

Umno is backing PAS in what is an obvious attempt to further drive a wedge between the conservatives in PAS, who still hold onto the ideology of forming an Islamic theocracy, and the secular DAP and even the Malay-dominated PKR.

In an editorial today, the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia mocked PAS for being a mere “splinter party” in the PR alliance administration in Selangor, as PKR and DAP would still be in power even if the Islamists pulled out of the government.

Umno Youth members are also taking full advantage of the situation and are actively and aggressively courting their PAS counterparts to organise protests against Ronnie Liu, the DAP executive council member who ordered the unlawfully seized beer returned.

The message being sent by Umno is clear — that PAS should not bow to the wishes of the DAP, a predominantly Chinese party, especially when it comes to issues affecting Muslims.

And the message being received loud and clear by all Malaysians is that there should be separate laws in this country to accommodate Muslims and Malays.

Umno and the conservatives in PAS are telling Malaysians to ignore the fact that the MBSA officers had unlawfully seized the beer to enforce Islamic enactments prohibiting Muslims from drinking.