Hadi’s call to woo non-Malays is political doublespeak

By his own admission, it is an obvious political statement by the PAS supremo aimed at winning federal power at the next general election.

(FMT) – Three recent incidents gave me hope that racial and religious differences being played up by politicians may not reflect the actual situation on the ground.

The first was in Taiping last week when a man used a hammer to break up an idol in a Hindu temple in broad daylight.

Many people failed to notice in the viral video clip that three other Malay men actually stopped the man from continuing with his act of madness and were seen pushing him away towards his motorcycle, asking him to leave.

Their heartwarming action was a reminder that there are wise Malaysians around who will prevent such situations from turning ugly.

For the record, the suspect was arrested shortly after that, kudos to the police for the prompt action.

Malay girl, Indian dress

The second was at a Hindu wedding dinner where I spotted a three-year-old Malay girl clad in Indian lehenga attire. Intrigued, I approached the father and congratulated him on allowing such a cross-cultural act in public.

I asked him if he feared any backlash from his friends and neighbours, at a time when multiculturalism is being frowned upon by champions of the Malays, especially PAS.

“It’s nothing to do with religion,” he said. “It’s just fashion and I don’t have to fear anything.” It was refreshing indeed to hear someone saying this in public unlike those who fear speaking out even if they are in agreement.

Then came the speech by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang at the party’s general assembly last week. He declared that the party needs to win over non-Malay voters at the next general election if it wants to head the federal government.

It came in stark contrast to his weekly sermon in his party organ Harakah, where he blames the nation’s ills mainly on non-Malays. Of course, he uses DAP as the front for this purpose. He did say one other thing though. They will only try to win over non-Malays who are not extremists.

On a positive note, his realisation that PAS needs non-Malays to run this country effectively is finally an admission that you cannot make Malaysia a Malay country. The nation’s destiny should be that of a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural democracy.

What does he mean by extremist?

Interestingly, Hadi again used the term non-Muslim extremists. No one is sure what he actually means. Is it an extreme view for someone to call for the nation to practice both the civil law and shariah jurisprudence in a parallel system that has been in place since independence?

I wonder too if it is extreme to oppose the possibility of Malaysia becoming an Islamic state and to resist the implementation of hudud laws. More than 40% of the population is made up of non-Muslims. So, is this a genuine concern of the non-Malays or one that is extreme?

By his own admission, his call to embrace non-Malays is obviously just for federal power. There is no guarantee about what will come after, as the trust deficit continues to widen with actions from certain party leaders from PAS and Bersatu.

Hadi must know that the doublespeak used by politicians is easily exposed these days. Social media is full of them. His unreasonable statements, some of which were extreme, will never be forgotten by many, I guess.

Among them are his claim that the high level of corruption in the country is caused by non-Malays. He has also gone on record to say that all key government posts must be held by Malays and that others can play only a secondary role.

Minority rights

Hadi and some of his leaders have continuously labelled non-Malays as “pendatang” or immigrants, although most non-Malays today were born and bred here, with some families in their third or fourth generation.

Is fighting for minority rights by some NGOs and political parties an act of extremism?

Parties like PAS and Bersatu have opened their parties to non-Malays but these members cannot be part of the mainstream, in a wing with no voting rights. They cannot vie for any post in the main leadership. So, these parties have created a class structure to discriminate within the party.

In this context, if these two parties hold federal power, will this form of discrimination be legislated? One cannot blame the non-Malays for this distrust.

So, how is Hadi going to explain and justify this blatant man-made discrimination towards non-Malays? The party’s slogan is “PAS for all” but in practice, it’s nowhere near there.

A proud ‘kafir’ ex-serviceman

Some are saying that PAS should also stop describing non-Muslims as “kafir” (infidel), which they say gives a negative and insulting connotation. PAS obviously uses it for political reasons.

On a personal note, being a non-Muslim, I am hardly affected if someone calls me a “kafir”. It’s is no big deal. I have not committed any crime and I have paid huge taxes in the past. I have not stolen the people’s money nor have I cheated the authorities.

In fact, I am a proud “kafir” because like many others, I gave the best part of my youth to the nation as a serviceman for 12 years. There are tens of thousands of others in my category who have proudly served the country.

In addition, they did not protest when they were not being promoted despite being more deserving than others promoted in the name of positive discrimination. After all, we accepted that this is allowed under the Federal Constitution.

So, Hadi and PAS have a lot to do if they really want to win the hearts of non-Malays and convince them that they will not be discriminated against. Mere pronouncements at general assemblies or press conferences will not help. Malaysians are beyond that.

I am sure many non-Malays will be following Hadi’s weekly column in Harakah to see if he has changed his tone towards them or whether he will continue playing to the gallery.