The futility of sacking Hasan Ali

It neither removes the Malays’ fear of losing their dominance nor satisfies the non-Malays’ hunger for equal treatment.

Helen Ang, Free Malaysia Today

The peremptory sacking of Hasan Ali cannot paper over our communal cracks.

Hasan was dismissed by his party for baiting the opposition on a logical prime ministerial candidate. His proposal of either PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang or Mursyidul Am Nik Aziz Nik Mat may be rhetorical but nonetheless served its purpose of highlighting the incongruity of the Pakatan Rakyat partnership.

The fact remains that DAP members will not support the turbaned heads of the Islamist party and the PAS faithful likewise will not support senior DAP leaders, who are Chinese and Indian, to be prime minister, even an interim one.

With the more cohesive Barisan Nasional, there has never been any question that the PM should come from Umno. Opponents take this to mean that the satellite parties necessarily kowtow to Big Brother.

Pecking order in the BN aside, is there any equality or indication that Pakatan will strive to provide equality on its turf?

The minority races are hungry and most pathetically desperate to be treated equally. Yet DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng took great pains to stress that “no non-Malay has ever talked about wanting to be PM”.

Who is he to speak for the personal ambitions of 6.4 million Chinese, 1.9 million Indians, 3.33 million native Borneans and 189,385 ‘Others’ by declaring that not a single one of us harbours the desire of holding top office? How does he know?

Is it that inconceivable if a non-Malay, but say Muslim, Sabahan or Sarawakian should soon stake a moral claim? What if politicians such as Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice had insisted that no black American could ever imagine himself to be president one day?

It is clear that DAP has no vision of racial equality—even projecting theoretically into an egalitarian future—although pragmatism dictates the political reality of a Malay PM for the present.

The pledge by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim three days ago at a 901 ceramah that if elected PM he will end racial discrimination does not square with Lim’s presumption of the status quo.

To the Subang Jaya urban crowd, Anwar promises racial equality. To placate Malay anxiety, Lim assures the much sought-after vote bank that non-Malays are content with remaining always in second place. Neither of the politicians dared touch on Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

Hasan Ali has been a spoiler to the Pakatan troika’s duplicitous strategy of dispensing different sweeteners to different suckers.

And Hasan keeps hitting the bullseye because clearly Anwar and Lim are sidestepping the real causes of racial inequality and have no bold or concrete solutions to offer.

If one accepts Lim’s demur that nobody in DAP desires to be PM, then quite rightly the candidate should come from PAS, which is stronger than PKR. Thus, how was Hasan wrong for suggesting PAS’s pre-eminence in the tripartite electoral pact?

Grassroots sentiments

We’ll examine the other allegations against this hate figure among the non-Malay loyal opposition following.

Among his other purported misdemeanours is the criticism that PAS has deviated from its original objective to set up an Islamic state. In this, Hasan is only reflecting the sentiments of the grassroots, who are aghast at how the party’s Holy Grail has inexplicably transmogrified into a “welfare state”.

Hasan has not changed. The PAS constitution on its Islamic state blueprint is unchanged. It is the key decision makers in PAS post-2008 who have shifted the goalposts.

Then there is the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) fallout and over which Hasan is accused of creating conflict between Christians and Muslims.

Please understand that apostasy is a really big deal with the ummah. Malays in Singapore once rioted over the coerced apostasy of Maria Hertogh, better known as Natrah.

Pending marching orders from the Menteri Besar, Hasan is the state exco overseeing religious affairs in Selangor. He is correctly perceived by devout Muslims as standing by his men—the religious department enforcement officers who were doing their job of preventing apostasy.

Similarly, Hasan was carrying out his bound duty of amar ma’aruf nahi mungkar (promoting good and preventing evil) when he backed the ban on the sale of beer.

There are many PAS members who view Hasan as strictly upholding the faith in his actions. To them beer is haram and its buyers are sinners. Hence Hasan is curbing sin. Related is the “hudud mentality” that according to Chandra Muzaffar is predicated on the 2Ps—Prohibit and Punish.

The last I checked DAP has ceased its objection to hudud and, by the same token, Hasan is only to be admired for implementing the Islamic aspiration of a sinless city—in Shah Alam to begin with and in Subang Jaya next, I hope.

With the DUMC issue, recall that the Selangor Sultan, who is the head of Islam in his state, chastised neither the religious department nor Hasan over the raid although it is likely that Hasan overstated the threat of Christian proselytising and grossly exaggerated the number of apostates in his subsequent statements.

The Christians here are making out to the Western media as if they are persecuted martyrs on the verge of being thrown to the lions. Their complaints were given an airing recently in the New York Times as well as in German news agency DPA’s syndicated story.

How much of blame for the increasing rift can rightly be laid at Hasan’s door?

Countries experiencing Christian-Muslim rivalry have suffered civil wars. One such country was the Christian South Sudan, which eventually seceded from the Muslim north last year.

Nigeria has the same Muslim north-Christian south divide and insurgencies. Its 2011 Christmas day church bombing made international headlines, but few Malaysians would remember that there were similar Nigerian church bombings the Christmas before.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report revealed 13,000 deaths in Nigeria since 1998 from Muslims and Christians killing each other.

Meanwhile The Economist carried a leader in its 31 Dec 2011 edition, intoning: “Once religion is involved, any conflict becomes harder to solve”, and adding “from Delhi to Jerusalem, many of those stirring up hatred are men of God”.

The magazine cited statistics that the Christian share of the population of sub-Saharan Africa had soared from 9% to 63% over the past century. These figures infer that Christian proselytising in the countries not traditionally belonging to Christendom is going full swing.

For example, South Korea today has more Christians (29.2% of the population) than it has Buddhists (22.8%), and boasts the world’s biggest mega churches.

In Malaysia, the evangelists have never denied proselytising to Chinese, Indians and the Orang Asli.