PAS Youth’s recent opposition to pop concerts is bizarre, coming after Billie Eilish had performed in KL. The pop megastar is as inoffensive as it comes. She doesn’t dress provocatively (not that it should matter, but it would to PAS Youth) and her lyrics don’t reference Islam or religion of any kind.
But yet, as we’ve come to expect, we get another ice cold take from PAS. Perhaps my rudimentary agama classes didn’t cover the part about Islam’s total opposition to rock music (which Billie Eilish is not, for all the boomers in the back).
It’s a bit of rhetoric that has been mocked roundly on social media and by opposition MPs. The criticisms largely centred on (as usual) the PAS attempts to police people’s liberties.
There were even suggestions that Jakim be involved in the organisation of concerts (if so, expect Fyre Fest with halal food).
But perhaps it isn’t PAS we should all be most disappointed about. After all, their role in politics has long been to peddle extreme Islamic policies, so this is par for the course. Instead, I’m most saddened by those who have failed to stand up for non-Malays and non-Muslims despite that being their only reason for existing.
I’m talking about MCA and MIC, once formidable forces that are now little more than bit-players on the political stage.
While the pair had always taken a back seat to Umno within Barisan Nasional, at least there was a time when they had some influence within the coalition. They were supposed to be the counterbalancing voice for Malaysia’s minorities in a bloc dominated by Umno, and for a time they did.
It should be them speaking up on behalf of the non-Malays, whose rights to live a life free of Islamic influence are being disrespected by PAS.
But now, with just three MPs between the two parties, BN could eject them from government and not lose power. The two parties know this, and as a result have shirked their responsibility to defend the views and needs of non-Malays.
If it’s ‘unIslamic’ to go to concerts, then surely Chinese and Indian-Malaysians should not be affected, with any (frankly needless) bans only applying to Malays.
When BN needed MCA and MIC decades ago to lend them multiracial credibility, the pair had leverage to speak out on issues and provide a non-Malay perspective on issues.
Now, however, the pair can’t afford to rock the boat, as they’ve lost their utility to Umno and are the most expendable parties in the current government setup. As much as Umno has bristled with its own allies, losing Bersatu or PAS would make a far bigger dent than losing either MCA or MIC.
And here’s where a cycle begins to emerge, one that the two parties will struggle to escape: they are too small to have leverage, and thus must try to toe the party line as much as possible and not bother the Malay majority.
But by not being vocal representatives of their constituents, the parties then alienate the very people who put them in power, thus providing voters the motivation to choose another party that represents their race and making these two parties even less relevant.
It’s hard to blame them: politics is a game of expediency anyway.
Staying in power or climbing the ladder of influence is nearly everyone’s top priority, even if most would vehemently deny that. So while their parties are withering, as long as those like Wee Ka Siong and M Saravanan are able to keep their ministerial positions, don’t expect either to have much to say.
I don’t know a single non-Malay who still believes in MCA and MIC.
Maybe my circle is too young; I’m sure if I polled the clubhouse at the Royal Selangor Club on a Sunday afternoon I might be able to find some holdouts. But by and large the two parties are spiralling towards irrelevancy. It won’t be long until Malaysia’s young voters forget about them completely.
Even now, ask any millenial or Gen-Z’er who the party is for non-Malays, and the answer will invariably be DAP. They’re the ones who are calling out PAS’ absurd and oppressive rhetoric. They’re the ones doing the job MCA and MIC always claimed to be responsible for: providing the Malay dominated government with balance and a different perspective.
It’s a long way back for MCA and MIC now. Becoming more credible champions of non-Malay issues risks upsetting the very Malay parties whose coat-tails they need to ride. Stay silent, and they slide further out of the spotlight.
Either way, it appears as though the entire premise for their existence – multiracial representation – will never truly be achieved, not as long as BN and the government is set up as currently constructed.
Or maybe I’ve got it all wrong and MCA and MIC just aren’t Billie Eilish fans? We’ll see if they’re willing to chime in when PAS invariably kicks up a fuss when they find out Black Pink are coming to town. I have my doubts.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.