Don’t let the sun go down on our rights

By Wong Chun Wai, The Star

Any secular party would be a better pick than one whose politicians masquerade as religious leaders.

IT’S becoming boringly predictable with PAS as it again plays its self-appointed role of custodian of morality by telling Malaysians what they can watch – mostly cannot watch, unfortunately.

Just a few months ago, the Islamist party had attempted to project a somewhat liberal image, possibly believing that Putrajaya was within its grasp.

That short flirtation has ended and it has now decided to return to its conservative image, rudely awakened by the reality that it was more important to try to hold on to its jewels – Kelantan and Kedah – and that hardcore supporters were loudly voicing their dissatisfaction.

It now wants to be recognised for its main objectives – setting up an Islamic state and implementing hudud laws – and will surely have no tolerance for rock concerts, which it has dismissed as hedonistic.

PAS surely does not want to see its Malay votes, the deciding factor, slipping away for non-Muslim votes.

So it is now back to making the wearing of headscarves compulsory for women and punishing those who disobey the rule in Kelantan, and banning the setting up of cinemas in Bangi, Selangor, simply because a PAS state assemblyman objected.

And the party is not even the dominant player in the Selangor government.

No one can deny that, except for that brief experiment, PAS has always been consistent with its Islamist objectives and has never strayed from its purpose of wanting to set up a religious and puritanical society.

For many, due to their anger with the Barisan Nasional as well as for political expediency, they are prepared to pretend decisions made by PAS will not affect them, brushing them off as minor matters or merely distractions for a larger interest.

That was what the Iranians thought when they dumped their Western-backed but corrupt monarch for the ayatollahs. Thirty-two years later, however, many are wondering whether they gave up their human rights and secular lifestyles too.

There is an elected government in Iran but it is the theologians who call the shots, invoking laws in the name of religion and according to their interpretations, which not many of the faithful are prepared to challenge.

In the case of the minorities, their voices are easily suppressed and they are dismissed curtly for their religious ignorance.

Even in Tunisia, after the euphoria of its recent first elections, secular Tunisians are wary about the Islamist-dominated assembly and fear that their civil rights legislation will be reversed.

In Malaysia, we could head down that dangerous road if we are not careful because some of us are being convinced that PAS alone cannot redraw our legal systems.

PAS has decided to go ahead with the implementation of hudud laws in Kelantan, claiming that non-Muslims would not be affected.

One does not need a doctorate in law to know that there can never be two kinds of laws, particularly in civil and criminal matters. So there is no such thing as hudud laws would not affect non-Muslims.

The PAS Supporters Club has been jolted and it is finally realising that this was not part of the bargain.

Better late than never, it can be said, but then the PAS Supporters Club had organised tours to Kelantan and persuaded voters to elect more PAS candidates by claiming non-Muslims would not be affected, thank you very much.

Any objection to PAS’ agenda these days risk being rubbished as propaganda, abused, rebutted or named-called as abuses involving the Barisan. Objecting is surely not for those wanting to seek popularity.

The point is any secular party, whether Umno, the MCA, the DAP, PKR or PPP, would be a better pick than one whose politicians masquerade as religious leaders, insinuating that their words cannot be questioned because they are “men of God”.

Malaysia may not have the best system but we have one that works and functions. There are politicians who claim we are already an Islamic country but the Federal Constitution is pretty clear about the fact that we are still secular. Our legal system is also pretty clear and intact.

For sure, I cannot take seriously those who think Elton John’s song Can You Feel The Love Tonight, soundtrack for the film The Lion King, could be a gay anthem. By the way, one of his hit songs is Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – it’s sun, not son.