Issue of a cover-up

It is time for the authorities to stop reacting to extremist views by copying them but face them down instead.

PAS has been flirting with Umno since the end of last year but it has not stopped pushing Umno, which forms the backbone of the Barisan Nasional, into a corner with radical Islamist views and pronouncements. It is no secret that PAS goes into its radical mode just to provoke Umno.


USUALLY the week after the Umno General Assembly, the inter-racial temperature goes up a notch or two as the fabric of country’s harmony is stretched and at times even torn quite a bit especially when the debates were telecast live for the first time a few years ago.

However, that did not happen this time round. The meeting went off rather painlessly as far as the National Unity Department monitors were concerned. There was no hue and cry about any of the points raised by delegates.

In fact, non-Umno members were impressed by president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin’s speeches. These two have come a long way.

Not long ago, Najib and Khairy were labelled as the radicals within the Umno ranks but they have both grown in stature.

Najib and his team have managed to pull Umno back from the far right to a more centrist position that most Malaysians are familiar with.

However, the Prime Minister must now turn his attention to his Government and ensure that administrators, especially his ministers, are also pulled back to the same centrist position.

Many of the public complaints – from both Malays and non-Malays – have always been about the warped interpretation and implementation of sound government policies.

Najib has been trying his best to unravel decades of such warped implementations hidden by tonnes of paper work. He is, of course, not being helped by the ribbing and needling of his political opponents. While the Prime Minister has not taken the bait, the same cannot be said of his fellow ministers.

PAS has been flirting with Umno since the end of last year but it has not stopped pushing Umno, which forms the backbone of the Barisan Nasional, into a corner with radical Islamist views and pronouncements. It is no secret that PAS goes into its radical mode just to provoke Umno.

Far too often, past Umno presidents have had to remind party members not to react and there was no need to be more Islamic than PAS. But unfortunately, some do not listen and try to match the Islamist party. In the end such reaction leaves many Malaysians feeling very uncomfortable and causes more tear into the fabric of national unity.

One such example of over-reacting to PAS has been the so-called policy on performances of foreign artiste in Malaysia. Every time a top notch international performer wants to hold a concert in Malaysia, PAS’ Youth wing will protest.

They have become even more vocal since their success in the March 8 general election. PAS sees the votes cast for them by non-Muslims as a licence to become more radical instead of becoming more open and inclusive.

The so-called postponement of Beyonce Knowles concert that was supposed to take place on Sunday is a direct reaction to the protests and threatening sounds PAS had been making since it was announced that she was coming to perform at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The sponsors and promoters of the concert had issued a statement to stress that the “I Am” concert “has been postponed to a future date to be announced shortly.”

The truth is that Beyoncé called off the concert after facing some pretty fierce objections from Islamic critics over her sexy stage outfits and dance routines.

This is the second time this Grammy-winning diva has called off a concert in Malaysia for the same reason. A 2007 gig in Kuala Lumpur was called off for the same reason and was instead held in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, which has less rigid standards for performers.

It would be very easy for us to blame PAS for frightening off Beyonce but the Government must also take a sizeable responsibility for it.

The guardians of our culture and licence issuers of concerts made sure that Beyonce was more than aware of the strict rules she had to adhere to in terms of costumes when performing here. Where was Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, the head protector of our cultural rights, when PAS staged their verbal attack?

It was just last month when Dr Rais’ officers put the Government in a tight spot when they tried to enforce a non-Muslim audience for the Black Eye Peas concert just because it was organised by a beer company. It took the Cabinet to intervene and Dr Rais to announce that there was no such rule for the concert.

Dr Rais should have stood up to the PAS Youth protests and offered some sort of protection to Beyonce instead of saying that the singer can perform as long as she adhered to the dress code.

I wonder when was the last time Dr Rais went to a concert. One cannot get within 30m of the stage. Beyonce could be near buck-naked and no one can tell the difference especially at the speed at which she dances.

The PAS protest is not Islamic but just a political stunt to bait its enemies and Umno should not fall into this trap. It is political because there was no protest from DAP and PKR against PAS’ stand. Their deafening silence is a sure sign that it was a joint political manoeuvre.

Look at the way DAP and PKR protested against PAS’ move to try to get convenience stores to empty its shelves of alcoholic drinks but in the Beyonce case, there was nothing.

Kulim Bandar Baru MP Zulkifli Nordin is now trying to get a private member’s Bill passed during this parliament meeting to ban the sale of condoms and alcoholic drinks from all convenience stores. His move only drew protests from his opposition colleagues after they were asked to comment by newsmen.

This is another political trap that Umno must not fall for. This is a good opportunity for Najib and his team to prove that their party, Government and administration really subscribe to the ideals and concept of 1Malaysia where all Malaysians are comfortable and do not feel threatened like Beyonce.