Mocking Islam as campaign heats up

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Opposition campaigns are unpredictable and sometimes full of action. If it is not infighting, like in Sarawak, the opposition parties can always look forward to sabotage and the heavy hand of the Election Commission.

On the fourth day of campaigning for the Kuala Kangsar by-election, a Pakatan Harapan ceramah was disrupted by four men, apparently from the local BN operations headquarters. They emerged at the venue, in Taman Seri Emas, at 8.40 pm. Complaining that the loud speaker was disturbing their terawih prayers, they threatened to wreck the sound system.

In the heat of an argument that lasted for about 15 minutes, one of the four said the Aulong state assemblyman, DAP’s Liow Thye Yih, was “stupid” for being disrespectful to Muslims.

The behaviour of these four men is reminiscent of the thugs who used to drop in announced at opposition ceramahs to issue threats and cause havoc in the run-up to GE13. Do you remember the talk in Shah Alam, when young men on kapchais rode into an assembly hall and threw bottles and leaflets at the audience?

The behaviour of the thugs in Kuala Kangsar says much about their lack of respect for the holy month of Ramadan.

There must have been some Muslims in the 300-strong crowd. Did they stand up to these thugs and tell them off? Or did they feel intimidated and say nothing?

Meanwhile, in Sungei Besar, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin visited Kampung Sungei Haji Dorani and told the electorate that only a vote for the BN candidate would ensure them economic opportunities and help in maritime security.

Was Khairy issuing a subtle threat? Did he mean that only a candidate endorsed by BN would deliver the needs of the community? Would that be true governance?

At Parit 16, also in Sungei Besar, the President of Parti Ikatan Bangsa, Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, tried to impress the 40-strong audience by introducing Tunku Abdul Rahman’s grandson and grandnephew to them.

Campaigning for PAS, Kadir praised the founding father of Malaysia, but he seemed to have forgotten that the Tunku would be horrified to see that religion is being used to destroy his vision of a secular Malaysia.

As usual, someone had to bring up the issue of heaven and hell. The Sungei Besar PAS information chief, Sallehudin Baharom, told the audience that voting PAS would ensure them a reward in the afterlife.

Do these politicians think Malays are simpletons who believe that mere mortals can assure them of a place in heaven? Why do PAS and Umno-Baru politicians like to make a mockery of Islam?

While all this was going on, Election Commission Chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah warned all parties against putting up “provocative” billboards. He was referring to the DAP billboards, which featured 1MDB and also the famous “Chinese pigs” remark by the Sungei Besar Umno-Baru chief and Red Shirts leader, Jamal Md Yunos.

Mohd Hashim cited Section 4A of the Election Offences Act 1954 about spreading ill feeling and hostility and ordered the removal of the billboards. He made no mention of election fraud.

If only the police had reacted with similar speed when Jamal made insulting and provocative remarks about the Chinese.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

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