Be careful who we vote for

We should be on guard against politicians who try to pass themselves off as theologians, regardless of their religion.

Wong Chun Wai, The Star

IT’S incredibly silly and nave to actually believe that the religious push by PAS, especially the implementation of hudud and syariah laws, will not affect non-Muslims.

There are many Chinese voters, swayed by anti-establishment sentiments towards Barisan Nasional, who have been easily convinced that the Islamist party is perfectly acceptable and that hudud laws would not encroach into the lifestyle of non-Muslims.

So they take a light, if not cynical, response towards the call by the Chinese-based component parties in the Barisan and have dismissed the red flag raised by the MCA and Gerakan as no more than a scare tactic.

Last week’s report that a female Chinese hairstylist has been fined regularly by the Kota Baru Municipal Council for cutting the hair of male Chinese customers has revealed how the PAS agenda is affecting non-Muslims.

Salon operators have learnt the hard way that gender segregation regulations in the PAS-controlled state apply to non-Muslims as well. The KB municipal council by-laws forbid women from cutting men’s hair and vice-versa regardless of their religion.

E-Life Hair Salon manager Ong Lee Ting said she has been paying fines of between RM200 and RM350, adding that she was warned the licence for the salon would be revoked because of the many summonses issued to the operator.

While many of us may be used to the way the PAS state government has been running Kelantan with its strict religious regulations, including gender segregation at concerts and supermarket check-outs, some might not be aware that the party’s leaders in other states have been doing something similar.

In Bangi, Selangor, the PAS state assemblyman Dr Shafie Abu Bakar has stood firm against any proposal to set up a cinema in his constituency. A Chinese businessman reportedly tried to set up a cinema in Bangi but the PAS politician was the biggest stumbling block.

When the issue was reported in February, Dr Shafie questioned the need for a cinema in his constituency when one could watch movies on television and the Internet.

He claimed that his constituency was 97% Muslims who preferred to attend religious and educational classes.

In July, PAS in Kuala Selangor insisted on putting up notices in a cinema forbidding unmarried couples from sitting together. State PAS Commissioner Dr Rani Osman said the directive was made by the licensing department of the Kuala Selangor district council.

The state deputy commissioner Khalid Samad, who is purportedly a liberal, was reported as saying that the cinema was frequented by families and they had complained of couples making out there.

He also reportedly described it as a poor man’s nightclub!

In Kota Baru, the PAS state government at one time reportedly insisted that the lights in cinemas must be switched on during the movie to prevent patrons from conducting immoral activities.

In 1995, when PAS came to power in Terengganu, the first thing the state’s then Mentri Besar Hadi Awang did was to demolish the replica of a turtle at a roundabout in Kuala Terengganu, saying it was akin to idol worshipping. This is the same man who has indicated his interest to be Prime Minister of Malaysia.

But we must accept the fact that PAS politicians have always been very clear on what they want to achieve if they are in power. They have consistently and clearly made it known that implementation of hudud laws are on top of their agenda.

It is only the apologists outside PAS that have tried to reassure their non-Muslim supporters that this would not happen or that hudud laws, even if implemented, would not affect non-Muslims. Try telling that to a non-Muslim rape victim if the perpetrators are Muslims.

We should be on guard against politicians who try to pass themselves off as theologians, regardless of their religion. Those who challenged the authority of such politiciantheologians have found themselves being reminded that dissent means challenging God’s laws.

They are also put down by such figures who dismiss their critics as unqualified and incapable of carrying out a debate because the challengers are not religiously qualified. Suddenly, religion has become the monopoly of these political-religious characters.

Malaysia is veering towards a dangerous situation where there are many non-Muslim voters who are prepared to vote in orthodox PAS leaders. They don’t realise that they would be turning the clock back with their political adventurism.

It could be a hair-raising experience!