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Brushing aside the vehement objections of many Sabahans, Chief Minister Hajiji Mohd Noor has gone ahead and appointed a PAS politician to the state assembly. It is the first time that a PAS member will be seated in the legislative body. 

The PAS leadership was, of course, ecstatic. They’ve tried and failed to get in for years; now they are in through the backdoor without having to even contest in elections. But that’s the way they operate; they are political parasites always feeding off the greed and ambition of others to acquire power they have consistently failed to win at the polls.  

In Semenanjung too, they’ve tried to get a seat at the cabinet table in Putrajaya for years but voters would have none of it. Even Malay-Muslims didn’t trust them enough to give them a strong mandate. In the last five general elections, they have never been able to win more than 27 of the 222 seats in parliament. In GE14, they only managed to win 18 seats but they are part of the federal government today because they found a way in through the backdoor.

In lobbying for the state assembly appointment, PAS leaders claimed that the party had demonstrated its commitment to strengthening unity and protecting public welfare regardless of race or religion. What hogwash and humbuggery!

PAS has made no secret of the kind of nation it wants to build – an Islamic state that marginalises and disenfranchises non-Muslims. Under a PAS administration, the nation would be divided into Muslims and non-Muslims (kafir, infidel, dhimmi or whatever else they are called). Muslims would enjoy the full benefits of citizenship; non-Muslims would have few rights. Certainly, they would be banned from holding high public office or senior positions in government, the armed forces, the bureaucracy and the justice system.

As Hadi once argued, non-Muslims “have no concept of sin” – in other words, they are ungodly and immoral and, therefore, unfit for high office. In Hadi’s Islamic state, sharia and hudud would also replace civil law and the penal code and be applied to both Muslims and non-Muslims. It would be the end of Malaysia as we know it.

This is the agenda they have openly committed themselves to over many years; it would be dangerously naïve not to take them seriously or to believe that their plans for Sabah are somehow different.

PAS has also displayed an almost visceral hatred of Christians, repeatedly denigrating their faith, slandering them and insisting they are a threat. He publicly called Christianity a “failed and rejected religion whose missionaries are now trying to spread their faith in Malaysia by baiting their targets with money and other forms of aid… a danger that must be fought.” More recently, the head of the party’s Dewan Ulama, Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh, asserted in Parliament that the Bible is “distorted.” And they make no apologies for their hostility and perverted views. 

PAS is also as racist as they come. On a visit to Sarawak last year, Hadi asserted that the DAP wanted to seize control of the state’s wealth “for the Chinese, not for all the people.” And this from the same man who has had nothing to say about the massive plunder of wealth (at both the state and federal level) that has been going on for years right under his nose. 

Furthermore, when Hadi talks about national unity, he is not referencing the term as it is commonly understood. His idea of a multiracial polity is one in which everyone embraces Islam. He has often quoted the example of Medina in the early years of Islam where non-Muslims “who were invited to form a multiracial government converted to Islam and were ready to work hard for the benefit of this government and nation… they converted willingly or agreed to adhere to fair Islamic governance.”

Other like-minded Islamists have pushed the same idea with one state mufti calling on non-Muslims “to convert to Islam to be safe in the afterlife and for unity in Malaysia” “There will be no more chaos and we can focus on development,” he said.

If Aliakbar Gulsan (the Sabah PAS leader who was appointed to the state assembly) does not share these extremist views (as he claims), then let him repudiate the vile comments of his masters. If not, it would be fair to conclude that he is a trojan horse appointed by the PAS leadership to push their extremist national agenda at the state level.

While the antics of PAS should come as no surprise, the shameful and spineless response of local leaders like Maximus Ongkili (PBS) and Jeffrey Kitingan (STAR) has been nothing short of scandalous. When talk of the appointment first surfaced, they made loud noises opposing it; after the appointment was announced, however, both leaders displayed their extraordinary skills as contortionists to finesse their opportunism and mask their unscrupulousness.

Speaking out of both sides of their mouth they said they remain opposed to the appointment but looked forward to working with the PAS representative. They said they understood the unhappiness of the people but urged everyone to put politics aside. They said that the values that PAS espoused were offensive but called on the people to be responsible citizens who see things from all perspectives. Their bosses in Putrajaya would no doubt be very very pleased with them.  

Ongkili even gave an assurance that PBS would “monitor and provide a check and balance to ensure that the concerns of the Sabah public are addressed.” It’s a hollow promise and he knows it. If they had any honour they would have immediately pulled out of GRS (Gabungan Rakyat Sabah) but the rewards were too great to pass up – a deputy chief ministership for each party.

In the end, it is the people of Sabah who will pay the price for the duplicity of their leaders. They have opened the door to a dangerous and divisive party; it will come back to haunt the state some day in much the same way as ‘Project IC’ now does. Years from now when the same kind of extremism and bigotry we are experiencing in Semenanjung tears at the gentle fabric of Sabah society, Sabahans will know who their Judases were. 

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 11th October 2020]