Non-Muslim MPs in ‘Malay’ ruling bloc still have concerns after ‘PM for all’ speech

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin speaks in his first televised address. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The handful of non-Muslim MPs in Perikatan Nasional still have concerns about whether their views carry weight in the overwhelmingly Malay Muslim-majority coalition, despite Muhyiddin Yassin’s assurance that he will be a prime minister for all races.

Two non-Muslim MPs from the new ruling bloc told FMT that such fear persists despite reassurances to them by “Muhyiddin’s people”.

“We want our voices to be heard,” one of them said. “The majority of MPs backing Muhyiddin are Malays, including those from PAS.”

He said the Chinese, Indians as well as non-Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak might feel unrepresented in the present government.

“There are some reservations, but during our conversations with Muhyiddin’s circles, we were assured that the non-Muslims will be looked after. We were told he would not sideline us.”

Muhyiddin came to power with the backing of PPBM MPs as well as Barisan Nasional dominated by Umno, along with PAS and GPS. There are fewer than a dozen non-Muslim MPs in the bloc.

The non-Muslims include MPs from Keningau, Beluran, Puncak Borneo, Saratok, Baram, Bintulu, Ayer Hitam, Tanjung Piai, Segamat and Tapah. Negotiations are ongoing with other non-Muslim MPs from Sabah and Sarawak.

Last night, in his first televised address after being sworn in, Muhyiddin vowed to be a prime minister for all Malaysians.

“I am a brother to the Malays, the Chinese, the Indians, the Sikhs, the Ibans, the Kadazans, the Dusun, the Murut and those of various ethnicities.

“I am your prime minister. Even if you are a farmer, a fisherman, a trader, a civil servant or a private sector employer, I am your prime minister,” he said.

One non-Muslim MP said among the assurances given to them was on PAS’ “new face”.

“We were told that the public would see a new face to PAS, so that everyone will be comfortable with them,” he added.

The MP said PAS is not what worries the non-Muslim MPs in the new coalition.

“In some ways, as we get to know PAS MPs, they seem okay. Perhaps more progressive than Amanah. But we will wait and see.”

Another MP who supported Muhyiddin as prime minister spoke of concerns about issues like controversial Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik, the Islamisation of national schools, and the possibility of stricter shariah laws in the country.

He said with Malays forming the bulk of MPs, the current government could do “what Pakatan Harapan could not do”.

Even if the coalition decides to deport Naik, who is wanted in India on charges of money laundering, he said there would be less resistance from the Malay community.

“We will have to talk things out,” he said. “But what we want is for our voices to be heard.”