What PAS’ ‘Muslims-only’ call shows

The predictable PAS is at it again, playing the religion and race card. It was reported that PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan had criticised the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government for appointing non-Muslims to the highest positions in government dealing with the law. He said the legal rights of Muslims would be further compromised with the appointment of Richard Malanjum as chief justice.

By sheer coincidence, and not by some grand design, Malanjum was the third non-Muslim to be appointed by Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Cabinet, after Tommy Thomas who was made attorney-general and Sabah MP Liew Vui Keong, the de facto law minister.

Nasrudin said, “Islam was already topsy-turvy under the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government. But now, it is clear that the change promised by PH will lead to a worse, more terrible situation. Is this a situation of Muslims escaping the tiger’s jaws only to be lashed by the crocodile’s tail?”

Sabahans are angry with Nasrudin for making a sweeping statement that Malanjum has a “track record of making judgments that do not side with Islam”. Why should he just side with Islam? Doesn’t Islam teach justice for all? He then rubbed salt into the wound by saying that the chief justice’s appointment would bring disaster to Muslims. Fearmongering is one of the tactics often used by PAS to frighten the uneducated; this is its forte.

Netizens in Sabah slammed PAS for its chauvinistic attitude and for attacking the character of a person who is well regarded by his peers and the legal fraternity. Malanjum came from humble beginnings and was educated at Mara, the bastion of “Malay-only” education institutions. Finally, after 54 years in Malaysia, we have a Kadazandusun chief justice from Sabah. Although Sabahans cheered over that proud moment, the party was spoiled by PAS’ skewed thinking. Malanjum’s proud achievements were dragged through the mud by religious bigots in PAS.

Malanjum is the most senior federal judge on the bench but was bypassed by the BN government for promotion, some suspect for “political reasons”. His appointment is proof that a new Malaysia is in the making under the leadership of the venerable Mahathir. Mahathir is willing to buck the trend, pushing aside petty “Muslims-only” politics and promoting qualified Malaysians irrespective of religion or race, based on merit, while PAS is still languishing in its petty kampung politics. Soon, PAS will be irrelevant, if it isn’t already.

We are not quite sure what Nasrudin meant when he said Islam was “already topsy-turvy under the previous BN government”. Perhaps he meant that Umno was toying around with PAS, blowing hot and cold on Abdul Hadi Awang’s RUU355 private member’s bill.

Perhaps he was talking about people like lecturer Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia, who claimed that by reading the autobiography of former Selangor assembly speaker Hannah Yeoh, he could be influenced towards Christianity. Kamarul’s experience was published in PAS’ official organ, Harakah daily.

Perhaps he meant the BN government should defend the dressing-down of the Muslims-only laundry by the Sultan of Johor who found it offensive.

Perhaps he meant the apprehension of Muslim groups over the harbouring of Zakir Naik, who is banned from entering the UK, Canada and Sarawak, and wanted in India.

Nasrudin should explain his statement. If Islam was topsy-turvy during BN’s reign, it was because Najib was pussyfooting with Hadi over RUU355 over the last few years and forgot the meaning of Islam and compassion towards fellow human beings. PAS’ single-minded focus on RUU355 was one of the reasons BN lost the election.

Nasrudin has forgotten that the top leaders since independence have all been Muslims. Is the country better under a Muslim leader? If you look at Najib’s administration and what is now being revealed, can Nasrudin say that Muslim leaders are pious and clean? Can he say that Malaysia is a progressive nation? Is he blind to the corruption that went on in nearly every department?

During Najib’s time, Muslims were harassed and books like a G25 volume with a foreword from former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, launched by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, were banned. Cartoonist Zunar was arrested and Bilqis Hijjas dropping yellow balloons over a Najib function became a crime. Is this the kind of Islamic nation envisaged by Nasrudin? Is Kelantan, which for decades has been ruled by PAS, a model state?

One netizen from Sabah echoed Najib’s speech early this year: Those who are ashamed of being Malaysian should leave the country. Sabahans suggest the same. Perhaps people like Nasrudin would be happier and more comfortable living in tribal countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, where their chauvinistic utterances will be well received.

Nasrudin should follow his president’s cue. Hadi said Malaysians can learn from Sabah and Sarawak, where diverse peoples have lived in harmony for so long. Hadi said PAS recognised the advantages of a multi-cultural and multiracial society, and that there were lessons to be learnt from the diverse peoples of Sabah and Sarawak on managing relations. Obviously, Nasrudin has not learnt anything from his president.

Joe Samad is an FMT columnist.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


PAS: Shariah a distant dream as non-Muslims ‘take over’ judicial posts