Lack of dominant party in PH worrying the Malays, says political scientist

A political scientist says the absence of a dominant Malay party in Pakatan Harapan (PH) may create uncertainty within the community about the future of Islam under the coalition.

(FMT) – Marzuki Mohamad, who is also a special officer to Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, said PH is expected to protect the sanctity of Islam as the religion of the federation.

He said there is a perception among the Malays that the position of Islam has now become a subject of negotiation.

“It augmented an existing deep-rooted perception among the Malays that the religion of Islam and its constitutional position is continuously under threat,” he said.

He said on the other hand, there are vocal civil society and human rights groups promoting a more liberal understanding of religion and culture.

“To this group, most of the Malaysian laws and policies on Islam are discriminatory, oppressive, and archaic,” he said in his speech at the “Malaysia in Transition” seminar series at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

“They consistently demand that these laws and policies be repealed, mostly on grounds that they are against the principle of human rights and freedom.”

He also said that conflicting views and opposing statements on matters of public interest by PH leaders could create confusion among the public as all of the component parties are considered equals.

“The absence of a dominant Malay party in the ruling coalition that is expected to defend and protect the sanctity of Islam as the religion of the federation has created uncertainties among the Malay majority about the future of Islam,” he said.

Marzuki said the conflict between the liberal and conservative groups in shaping public opinion also puts pressure on the government.

“Should PH be seen as leaning towards the liberals’ demands, it would face a serious political backlash,” he said.

“At the same time, it is also facing pressure from civil society and human rights activists, some of whom are strong supporters of PH parties.”

He said the lack of a dominant party might be democratically favourable but would also cause challenges in making firm decisions and maintaining a consistent direction on issues affecting the people.