Behind the liberal front

The policies of PAS in Kelantan have put its Pakatan Rakyat allies in an awkward spot.

For the DAP, the value of hanging on to PAS is not in winning new seats but having a partner who can provide the Prime Minister or Mentri Besar if they win big, as was the case in Perak before the defection.

Baradan Kuppusamy, The Star

THERE is more to the hair controversy in PAS-ruled Kota Baru than meets the eye.

For one, the woes of doing business have just multiplied and it also tells of the unfriendly business environment in Kelantan, which prides itself in allowing pig farms but not a woman cutting a man’s hair and in full and open view.

It also shows, especially to the business-oriented Chinese community, that supporting the Islamist party, no matter what the DAP does to justify and whitewash it ahead of the coming general election, is a step backwards.

PAS is set to be dominant in Pakatan Rakyat and the intolerant rules it is imposing in Kelantan will eventually be translated into national policies by its representatives.

Remember the protest against cinemas in Bangi and the gender segregation seating in cinemas in Sabak Bernam?

Once the genie is out of the bottle it is impossible to wish it back in.

By all counts, DAP is resurgent and while it is on course for a big victory at the polls, it is also urging Chinese voters to back its partner PAS.

But no matter how liberal PAS pretends to be, it stumbles ever so often.

It shows its inherent intolerance and narrow mindedness, all in the name of Islam, an intolerance that appears intrinsic to all religious parties.

If PAS becomes dominant, which is within reach with its one million card-carrying members, and with DAP and PKR giving it added clout, what is to stop it from implementing the same policies nationwide? At stake is our liberal way of life.

Salon operators in Kota Baru have been repeatedly summoned for allowing females to cut the hair of males or vice-versa, a prohibition imposed by the Kota Baru Municipal Council that is filled with PAS members.

Gender segregation is openly enforced in Kelantan, and PAS says this is in accordance with Islam.

But this is the first time where a non-Muslim female hairdresser has been summoned for cutting the hair of a non-Muslim male, a common enough practice everywhere else in the world except in Kelantan now.

Islamic rules were only for Muslims but now that rule has clearly encroached into non-Muslim space, and such space is narrowing and likely to get worse with PAS on a dominant path.

Can the DAP, which defends all things PAS and even goes about uttering Islamic verses, explain this intolerant tendencies?

The same PAS party is in the news for praying for God’s help to run down Umno and Barisan Nasional, wanting their destruction allegedly for being hard on Muslims.

Thus far the DAP as well as PKR are silent on this prayer asking for the destruction of Umno/Barisan Nasional, a desperate attempt to energise rural Malay support that is slipping from under PAS.

In the past, this very party had called Umno infidels, pig farmers and pharaohs, and told all who want to hear that Umno members won’t go to heaven when they die.

This is the party that is partnering with DAP and PKR and wants to get to Putrajaya in a big way.

It shows a temporary liberal face that becomes unhinged ever so often, leaving red faces in the liberal PKR and secular DAP.

A religious party advocating a theocracy simply has no role in a modern democracy, and a secular party like the DAP should have been aware of the limitations of a religious party before entering into a partnership.

Despite the ever so often hiccups from PAS, the DAP has been advancing the political interest of PAS and in return gets the support of PAS Malay members in the urban centres the DAP will contest.

But this support would only enlarge its majority in the urban centres, not win for it new seats.

For the DAP, the value of hanging on to PAS is not in winning new seats but having a partner who can provide the Prime Minister or Mentri Besar if they win big, as was the case in Perak before the defection.

Pure political expediency is at work here between DAP and PAS.

Each gains something out of their alliance PAS gets Chinese voter support and wins in many marginal seats against traditional rival Umno, and DAP gets a Malay partner in government.

As the hair cutting controversy unravels, the woes of the Chinese business community continue to multiply in Kelantan.

One salon manager was summoned 11 times, the latest on Tuesday, another was issued with 10 summonses, and a third with four.

It’s a wonder the salons are in business at all.

“I would understand it if we were fined for allowing our women workers to cut the hair of Muslim men. But they were attending to non-Muslim men,” said a salon manager remonstrating against the rule.

What will be next on the PAS list of don’ts … female doctors for females only?