PAS continues its crusade against religious neutrality


“Islam places the economy as one of life’s pillars, but in the last place.” – Abdul Hadi Awang

The PAS-led state government ruling that all Muslim and non-Muslim supermarkets, convenience stores and fast-food outlets have to close on the first day of Hari Raya Aidiladha may not be new but what is predictable is that in a time of political and economic uncertainty, PAS is attempting to use religion to deflect from the problems at hand.

Hadi and, by extension, PAS have made it clear that economic security is something that is last on the list and must be handled together with Islamic principles.

This, of course, means issues linked to economic security, such as food security and environmental issues, are considered minor inconveniences to the larger narrative of religious and racial supremacy in this country.

Mind you, just this January, Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob claimed that the state had been graft free for 32 years since PAS took over. He offered no evidence for this, and no doubt, nobody would question him.

Of course, the numerous reports about corruption, especially illegal logging, land grabs and other municipal malfeasances, are ignored by the menteri besar because (in the reality created by PAS) corruption is only something others do and not the religious party (PAS) whose members believe that they are ordained by God to impose Islamic superiority in this country.

PAS through its divisive leader Hadi has made it clear what they think of non-Muslims in this country.

Not only do Hadi and PAS think that non-Muslims should be “pak turuts”, but only hell awaits if non-Muslims lead this country.

This same kind of narrative is pushed by Zakir Naik, and it forms the basis of religious supremacy in this country.

The narrative demonises non-Muslims on religious grounds but even if non-Muslims were competent caring leaders, they would still be unsuitable for anything other than servitude by the narratives of Hadi and his ilk.

The PAS president understands that he will be vilified by non-Malay political operatives, but he also knows that when it comes to actual policymaking, his rhetoric and that of his base will have a profound impact, even though politically in terms of representation, PAS may be negligible, especially in the federal government.

Change of narrative

The reason why this country has been able to maintain the facade of being a “moderate” Islamic country is that the urban demographics and policy decisions enabled relative economic success, despite all the leakages.

Dismayed at the recent ban (by non-renewal) on gaming shop licences because it caused the collapse of the family institutions?

Well, think back to when then Federal Territories minister Khalid Samad decided to enforce the 1am closing time on entertainment outlets in KL so that locals could spend more time with their families.

Sabah, of course, pooh-poohed that idea.

These fascist ideas and PAS’ fascist ideas have already taken root in mainstream Malaysian politics.

Again this is a change of narrative. PAS has worked with non-Muslim leaders under the tenuous leadership of the late Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

Indeed PAS uses this brief period of political and religious moderation as an example of how PAS was betrayed when they worked with non-Muslims.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Umno and PAS is in the crapper, and now hypocritically, Umno is using PAS’ religious extremism as a sword against them as when in the recent Johor state election the state Umno deputy chief listed out the achievements of PAS here.

Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the Islamic party, which is contesting 15 seats, is bereft of ideas, and all they talk about is polygamy and promoting ridiculous practices like saying husbands can beat their wives “lightly”.

PAS has been making some bold political moves of late.

Openly disagreeing with the Selangor sultan and calling for state theocratic rebellion against the sultan when it came to the Bon Odori festival, was a way of flexing PAS’ muscles.

The fact that there has been no sanction from the royal institution is indicative of the growing power of this theocratic party.

PAS is the equivalent of the virulent right-wing hypocritical Christian Evangelical movement in the United States or the right-wing hypocritical Hindu revivalist movement in India.

All three attempt to impose religious hegemony in the countries they operate in and all are aided by the failing democratic guard rails and diminishing secular norms that ensure economic and social cohesiveness.

PAS’ long game is bearing fruit. – Mkini

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum – “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”