Long before the setting up of Amanah, the progressive Islamic party, in 2015, I had called on Malaysians to reject PAS under its hardline leader, Abdul Hadi Awang. Today with the drums of an early election beating louder, I am directing this call again to the opposition parties to stand firm and to reject PAS if it insists on the hard line condition of support for RUU 355 before any kind of opposition electoral understanding is arrived at.
I do not understand why the BN and Pakatan are courting PAS which under its present leadership is in such a hurry to promote the establishment of an Islamic state.
Most Malaysians can understand it – the promotion of an Islamic state – if the advocate is a fundamentalist or opportunist such as those from UMNO. But does anyone that is sensible and practical and who is not power hungry see this as a desirable vision?
How the establishment of an Islamic state can resolve the problems of our complex economy and society has never been spelled out by PAS since the beginning of its existence in 1951.
In fact the party has no economic or social or cultural agenda to speak of beyond the Islamic state concept because it believes that Islam as interpreted by its ulama leaders or as decreed by the party’s Muktamar has the answers to all the issues faced by the rakyat in the modern world.
This ignorance or disregard of what is taking place in the real world – the secular modern world of employment, technology, labour and capital markets, business, banking, industry, leisure and entertainment – arises from their belief that the Islamic religion which they see as the most superior and most perfect religion – has the answers for the country in all the sectors of life.
To hard line conservatives and clerics who dominate PAS, there seems to be no need for knowledge beyond what is found in the Koran. No need for books, computers or hand phones since they are all influenced by the evils of the Western secularized world. No need for democracy or fundamental human liberties and freedoms since their version of Islam has all the right values and answers. Many of the fundamentalists who support ISIS for example do not even see the need for a constitutional monarchy as found in Malaysia.
This explains why the party – even though it has held state power in Kelantan and Trengganu – has really been a massive failure in contributing anything worthwhile to the development of the country.
To be fair, there are some PAS leaders and party members that are moderate and progressive. This number which it is difficult to estimate do not talk openly about. But they recognize the shortcomings of the Islamic state and agenda in responding to the challenge of modern economy and society. They realize that the imposition of an Islamic state will bring us back into the medieval period and will be an unmitigated disaster for our multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia. They see that pushing for the greater imposition of shariah law will bring us closer to the status of “failed state” which is what has happened to many Muslim nations.
Unfortunately this progressive group lost power during the last PAS Muktamar. To me it is not surprising that the Amanah faction has been ousted as what it was offering to the Muslim community was a more sophisticated and balanced manifesto in contrast to the that provided by the ulamas who dominate the Muktamar.
Hadi really has nothing much to offer to Malaysians in terms of nation building skills compared with Amanah’s professionally trained leaders such as Husam Musa, Khalid Samad, Nizar Jamaludin, Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad, Salahuddin Ayub, Mat Sabu, Mujahit Yusof Rawa, Raja Kamarul Bahrin and others.
From the little that is available on his career, we can see that Hadi is a professional religious preacher and politician all his life. His horizons have been shaped by a degree in Islamic jurisprudence from Al-Azhar University in Egypt. Prior to that, he obtained a scholarship from the Saudi Arabian government for his graduate studies. It is for this reason that he is so much enamored with the Saudi brand of Islam and wants it to become dominant in Malaysia.
Frankly, in my opinion, the PAS leader and his men have no clue on how to develop the country or resolve our many problems. All the substance in PAS’s electoral platform in the last two elections in fact came from the “Common Framework” platform which was the work of the other opposition parties. Hadi and his PAS ulama contributed little to the opposition manifesto.
Today, we must not forget Hadi’s silence and reluctance to make a strong stand on the 1MDB and donation into PM Najib’s account scandals that have dominated the country for the last few years.
If we go by PAS focus during the past two years of Hadi’s leadership, the PAS coming manifesto, instead, will be on shariah law, hudud, Islamic education, the plight of the Rohingya’s, the bankruptcy of liberalism and secularism, etc. and not on rampant corruption and abuse of power.
Also if we take a cue from what has been in the party’s media attention, the need is to punish cross-gender group, transvestites, gays and lesbians, khalwat offenders, apostates, etc. and not the Malay/Muslim ‘warriors’ responsible for pillaging our economy.
This is why the opposition parties must insist before working with PAS in the coming election, at examining what the party has to offer beyond its “Islamic state” marketing pitch.
PAS and UMNO presently are partners lying in the same bed of ketuanan Islam and ketuanan Melayu and its associated abuse of power and corruption. This is all the more reason for rejecting both.