Umno can ensure secularism, linking with Amanah and DAP
Malaysia was founded on the precepts of secularism, but decades of heavily influenced race and religious politics, coupled with blatant social engineering has led to the huge split among Malaysians, which is still widening. In this context, GE15 is going to be crucial on the direction the nation will take – the secular or Islamist way.
(FMT) – Recent flip-flops by the federal government on matters involving non-Muslim liberties have led to some people accusing it of playing the “good cop, bad cop” game.
The issue of reversing its stand of asking the manufacturers of Timah whisky to do a name change was one among them.
Here, domestic trade and consumer affairs minister Alexander Nanta Linggi, a Sarawakian Christian, was seen as the hero by settling the matter in a most amicable manner, when it was not an issue in the first place. Level heads prevailed despite PAS’ stand on the matter.
Then came the finance ministry’s new regulation on alcohol sale and licensing fees which saw a barrage of protests from non-Muslims. It was not because all of them were alcoholics, but most felt that if allowed, the ruling could be the start of authorities infringing on the rights of non-Muslims in a constitutionally secular country.
In came MCA’s Wee Ka Siong, sounding like a knight in shining armour, making an announcement that the Customs department, which is under the finance ministry, would cancel the order. It’s obvious why the government tasked Wee with making the announcement when he was only the transport minister. Of course it was to score points with the Chinese community.
Then there is this current imbroglio on not allowing Thaipusam processions when huge Keluarga Malaysia gatherings were taking place in a seemingly uncontrolled manner. Even MIC deputy president M Saravanan, who is human resources minister, in a rare move took his government to task over this.
Can we expect another about-turn? Maybe Saravanan will be tasked to make the announcement that the Keluarga Malaysia government now listens to its family members and will rescind the decision for the celebration on Jan 18 next year?
Last week in Parliament, a PAS backbencher claimed the uniforms worn by MAS stewardesses was too revealing.
This subject, and a few other related ones, seem to surface on and off, especially when elections loom. Perhaps the MP should question if there is mismanagement in the national carrier that resulted in colossal losses instead of talking about attire which covers most parts of the stewardesses’ bodies anyway.
Well, with the next general election (GE15) looming, we can expect more of these kinds of flip-flops, and back to some “flop-flips” perhaps months after the election, going by past actions.
Are we seeing a silent battle between Umno and PAS, both trying to outdo each other on who’s more Islamic? Here, PAS and Bersatu are openly advocating for a huge Malay-Muslim majority to lead the country while Barisan Nasional, with its non-Malay component parties MCA and MIC, seems to be taking a more moderate stand of late.
Pakatan Harapan, on the other hand, is struggling with its image as a truly multiracial coalition as it is facing an uphill battle making Malays accept its secular approach, especially with how the strongest partner, DAP, has been demonised by PAS and Bersatu, and Umno before that.
In this context, some political observers are of the view that Umno has a key role in ‘taming’ PAS through the Muafakat Nasional platform so that pluralism becomes the only way Malaysia should go if it hopes to claw its way back to become the economic tiger it once was in Asia. Malaysia is way behind many countries, even in the Southeast Asian region.
Last week, the United Arab Emirates announced some big changes to fit into the global structure which is mainly secular, by transitioning to a 4.5-day work week, with weekends to consist of Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday.
That’s significant because the Muslim country wants to be more in line with Western schedules. Up until now, the UAE had a Friday-Saturday weekend, the standard in many predominantly Muslim countries.
“The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government’s efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social well-being, while increasing performance to advance its economic competitiveness,” the government declared.
Malaysia was founded on the precepts of secularism, but decades of heavily influenced race and religious politics, coupled with blatant social engineering has led to the huge split among Malaysians, which is still widening.
In this context, GE15 is going to be crucial on the direction the nation will take – the secular or Islamist way.
PAS is open about its ultimate destination, so we know its route.
Here, some see Umno leading the way with the new and young leaders from the DAP and Amanah, helped by the Undi18 voters, to steer Malaysia towards the progressive secular nation we once were – one that most Malaysians want it to be.