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PAS president Abdul Hadi bin Awang is once again insisting that all senior positions in the country be held by Muslims as they are the “dominant” force.

Last year, in discussing the appointment of the chief minister of Sarawak, he opined that both Sabah and Sarawak must be ruled only by Muslim bumiputeras.

This time around, he went further, listing out the judiciary, administration, security and defence as places where non-Muslims and non-Malays should be excluded from leadership positions.

And this despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of leadership positions in the country are already in the hands of Malay-Muslims.

Kaffirs not citizens

In the first instance, his remarks are, of course, aimed at the DAP, its stewardship of Penang State and the multiracial opposition coalition which includes the DAP.

To Hadi, it is unacceptable for a non-Muslim party to helm a state government or that it should even aspire to do so.

For this reason, he also castigated other Muslim politicians for working with the DAP, describing them as “ignorant, independent-thinking Muslims who have lost their Islamic and national identity and are playing a role in undermining the concept of dominance.”

Clearly, as far as Hadi is concerned, non-Muslims are noting but ‘kaffirs’ – inferior and unworthy people who have no business holding high office in a Muslim country, who have no right to decide on any policy or decision that affects Malay-Muslims.

Hadi’s concept of dominance is, in fact, an opportunistic merger of UMNO’s ketuanan Melayu political ideology and PAS’ own Wahhabi-inspired religious bigotry which Hadi hopes will endear him to UMNO.

Its ultimate goal is the creation of a Malay-Muslim Wahhabi state replete with Sharia law and hudud in which non-Muslims will be tolerated for so long as they accept their inferior status.

One wonders how long UMNO itself will be tolerated once PAS comes to power but that’s another story.

Public office is about integrity and service

In justifying his extremist position, Hadi made the asinine argument that top positions should be reserved only for the “dominant race” because the “prestige” of the post would be lost if other ethnic or religious communities held the position.

In the first place, high office is not about prestige but about public service, integrity and fealty to the constitution.

A person’s racial or religious background is, by itself, no guarantee of honesty and integrity or even competency. After all, we have seen too many examples of hypocrites, crooks and philanderers in high office who make much of their piety, patriotism or racial credentials while robbing the nation blind.

No single ethnic or religious group can claim a monopoly on virtue, wisdom or competence.

The premise that somehow only people from one race or religion can be trusted to rule wisely and uphold the prestige of their office is, therefore, pure racist nonsense, deeply insulting and morally repugnant.

Hadi should revisit the Middle East and other Muslim countries like Pakistan with eyes wide open to see the sheer absurdity of his argument.

Challenging the position of Islam

As usual, to pre-empt criticism of his views, Hadi warned non-Malays not to threaten the position of Islam, the monarchy and Malay-Muslim special rights as this could “jeopardize the good relationship between the Muslims and non-Muslims that had been fostered in the country.”

This is nothing but a tired old canard, the last resort of people who lack the intellectual capacity to defend their outrageous ideas.

Non-Malays understand the constitutional position of Islam, the monarchy and the special rights of the Malays, all of which are accepted realities in Malaysia.

What is unacceptable to non-Malays is the constant and unrelenting attempts by people like Hadi to undermine the constitutional rights of non-Malays, reduce them to second-class citizenship or make them out to be enemies of Islam and the Malays.

Like it or not, non-Malays are equally full and rightful citizens of this land. They love their country as much, have worked as hard, sacrificed as much and contributed as substantially as any one else. Malaysia is their home and many have been here for longer than some of the upstarts who were born elsewhere and now have the audacity to call others “pendatang.”

People like Hadi may find all this hard to accept but it is, nonetheless, a reality that he has to live with.

And as for good relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, Hadi, who has singlehandedly done so much to destroy trust between the two, is simply not qualified to pontificate on the matter. 

Nothing to worry about?

Amazingly, after delivering such an offensive racist tirade against non-Malays, Hadi had the temerity to assure them that they have nothing to worry about because they are “guaranteed justice and rights in accordance to the Quran and the Federal Constitution.”

It’s not the Quran that non-Muslims worry about but the way that people like Hadi interpret it and use it to justify discrimination against minorities.

It’s not the Constitution that we have a problem with but the attempts by people like Hadi to twist and subvert it to support their notions of an extremist Islamic state.

Whatever it is, Hadi should know that non-Malays will never trust the assurances of religious fanatics and extremists like him, not after all he has said and done, not after the way he betrayed the trust of the non-Malays who voted for his party in the last elections.

To put it bluntly, he has zero credibility as far as the majority of non-Malays are concerned.

A defining moment

Clearly, we have come to another defining moment in the history of our nation with two visions competing for primacy: Hadi’s vision of a race-based extremist Wahhabi state or Tengku Abdul Rahman’s vision of a “democratic state founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people.”

It is heartening that many – both Malay and non-Malay – are speaking out against Hadi’s twisted agenda for Malaysia.

More need to take a stand.

The people of Sabah and Sarawak, in particular, must pay special attention to this issue. History and circumstance have endowed them with the influence and power to help determine the future of our nation at the next elections. They should have no illusions that whatever happens in the Peninsula will sooner or later affect them. Hadi has made that clear enough.

Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 22nd August 2017