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Last week, PAS information chief Khairil Nizam Khirudin proposed that the government introduce a constitutional amendment to reserve the post of prime minister exclusively for Muslims in order to “protect and preserve the sanctity of Islam as the religion of the federation”. 

The timing of the announcement is, of course, no coincidence. After successive electoral defeats, the party’s prospects have dimmed. Its president, Hadi Awang, allied himself with the wrong partners and lost badly. Desperate to shift attention away from the party’s poor performance, the leadership is once again playing up divisive issues. 

Remember, this is a political party with a long history of exploiting religion for political purposes. They have no idea how to govern; PAS administrations are synonymous with economic stagnancy, high unemployment and serious social ills. They are inept, ineffectual and insensible. About the only thing they know to do is to stir up discord and fish in the sewers. 

Under our constitution, the Malay rulers are responsible for all matters pertaining to the administration of Islam. This includes “protecting and preserving the sanctity of Islam”. Is PAS now suggesting that the rulers are not up to the task? 

The fact is that there are more than enough constitutional provisions to safeguard the position of Islam as the religion of the Federation. As well, the rulers are all Muslim. The majority of Malaysians are Muslim. Muslims are firmly entrenched in all sectors of government, in all national institutions, in the armed forces and police, in academia and in the corporate sector. The reality is such that the possibility of a non-Muslim becoming prime minister is as remote as the planetoid Farfarout. 

You have to really wonder about these PAS people. Our nation is plagued with so many serious challenges – monstrous corruption, institutional decay, the terrible abuse of prisoners, refugees and migrant workers; thousands are unemployed, millions are struggling to make ends meet, youth drug addiction, to name a few – and they want to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

Truth be told, our nation has enough holy men; what we need in politics are men and women of integrity, character and substance irrespective of race or religion. As we all know, a man’s religion alone does not guarantee his honesty or integrity. Just look at former prime minister Najib Tun Razak, who was convicted last year of 7 counts of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power, and sentenced to a total of 72 years imprisonment. Or several other former leaders who are now facing serious criminal charges for corruption.

But I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised at the antics of PAS. After all, this is the same party that insists that non-Muslims should be barred from senior government positions, regularly denigrates other faiths and is now campaigning for harsh and regressive laws – including stoning to death (with stones of medium size, no less), death followed by crucifixion, amputation of limbs and whipping to replace the existing penal code. Indeed, its version of a theocratic state is so extreme that only the Taliban would approve of it. Perhaps that’s why they are also pushing for closer relations with the internationally shunned Taliban regime.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The vision that PAS has for Malaysia is destructive, divisive and dangerous. Malaysia is a multiracial, secular, constitutional democracy; tempering with that is a recipe for certain disaster. There are enough theocratic failed states already; the world doesn’t need another one.

Thankfully, the people of Malaysia have never been too impressed with PAS. In election after election, voters have resoundingly rejected this extremist party. In Sabah and Sarawak, they did not win a single seat in elections last year. This year, they were thoroughly routed in Melaka, losing all eight seats they contested. In Johor, they contested 15 seats but managed to win only 1. In GE14, the party contested 157 parliamentary seats but won only 18. If there is one takeaway from this, it is that most Malaysians remain uncomfortable with such a racist, extremist, narrow-minded and fanatical party. It’s one of the few positive developments in an otherwise bleak and dreary political landscape.

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 2nd April 2022]