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PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang

PAS is in the news again doing what they do best: spewing hate and intolerance. I suppose it’s to be expected since they are completely hopeless at governing; they’ve made a mess of every state they’ve ever ruled and every cabinet position they’ve ever held. 

In Kelantan, the state that PAS has ruled for decades, people don’t have proper drinking water and lack many of the other facilities that are taken for granted elsewhere in the country. The state has tons of social problems too. There’s hardly an economy to talk about; young Kelantanese have to leave the state to find work. And when the state government is given federal allocations, exco members rush out to buy luxury cars for themselves. 

No surprise then that they have never enjoyed widespread popular support. In the last five general elections, PAS has never won more than 27 seats (out of 222) in parliament. In GE14, it won a mere 18 of the 157 seats it contested. The only way they have been able to get into the government is by backdoor manoeuvres such as the Sheraton Move.

With nothing of any redeeming value to offer voters, they have to keep digging deeper and deeper into the cesspool of racism, bigotry and extremism to make their appeal. And that is what Hadi attempted to do yet again with his recent utterly moronic remark that non-Muslims and non-Malays are the root of all corruption in Malaysia. According to him, only Muslims are capable of acting with integrity; non-Muslims, he says, are incapable persons who are filled with man-made ideologies and are ill-equipped to eradicate corruption.

Even at the best of times, such remarks are just plain stupid. Coming at a time when the nation is transfixed by massive corruption scandals involving several Malay-Muslim leaders, it is imbecilic and laughable.

In any case, Hadi forfeited long ago the right to pontificate on matters of corruption. He has taken a laissez-faire attitude towards corruption – sinful when non-Muslims are involved, “willing giver-willing taker” when his co-religionists and political allies do it. He had nothing to say, for example, about 1MDB and even now refuses to criticise Najib despite his conviction. And neither has he spoken out on the many other corruption cases that are slowly but surely destroying the nation.

But that is the nature of the PAS president. He’s not just a political opportunist, he’s a moral one too, ever-ready to change his position and his ethics if there’s something to be gained from it. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah – who as the longest serving member of parliament has seen it all – famously called him a political prostitute. Such men have no moral standing, leave alone any credibility to lecture anyone about corruption.  

Anyone with a bit of common sense will know that no racial or religious group has a monopoly on virtue or vice. Muslims and non-Muslims, Malays and non-Malays are capable of great virtue and great vice. It’s the man or the woman, not the race or the religion. The greater the opportunity, the greater the temptation no matter who you are.  That’s why we need tough laws to fight corruption. 

If Hadi understood that, if he was truly against corruption, he would have strongly supported the legal process now playing out at the Federal Court and risen with righteous anger to condemn the way Najib Tun Razak and other UMNO politicians are trying to pervert the course of justice. Instead, he deflects attention from corrupt men with asinine remarks. That makes him complicit and supportive of the whole culture of corruption. Clearly, Hadi is part of the problem; he has nothing to offer in terms of solutions.

Despite Hadi’s attempts to muddy the waters, something profound could be taking place as a consequence of Najib’s efforts to stymie justice. More and more people are speaking up against hate, against corruption and against attempts to undermine the judiciary. Hadi himself was roundly condemned by a number of Malay-Muslim leaders for his racist remarks.

It is also heartening to see the way the judicial system is being defended from attempts to subvert it. The New Straits Times – long a mouthpiece of UMNO – came out recently with a stunning and courageous editorial slamming UMNO for trying to subvert the justice system in an effort to get Najib off the hook. Several Islamic leaders also panned Najib’s effort to manipulate religion to save himself by taking an oath in a mosque to swear his innocence. Even within UMNO, many divisional leaders appear to be pushing back at their president’s attempt to pressure the government into intervening in Najib’s case. 

Perhaps the ground is finally shifting; the nation may be coming to the point when it finally says enough is enough – enough with the corruption, enough with the racism and religious fanaticism, enough with fake and dishonest leaders whoever they are, whatever their race or religion.  It’s long overdue.

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 23rd August 2022]