PAS is clearly becoming more ultra-conservative after its president, Abdul Hadi Awang, said only Muslims will occupy decision-making roles in any future PAS cabinet, say analysts.
The latest statement by Hadi is likely targeted at gaining support from the most conservative sections of Muslim society, said Dr Kartini Aboo Thalib.
Other analysts said in trying to appeal to conservative Muslims, PAS is killing of whatever chances it had of attracting non-Muslim support.
Hadi’s stance towards non-Muslims in policymaking roles would negate any goodwill the party could have received from its strategy of fielding non-Muslim candidates.
“Hadi’s statement shows that PAS is ultra-conservative in terms of administration. This will have implications in our multi-ethnic society,” he said.
In his latest column in PAS mouth piece Harakahdaily, Hadi gave an indication of what a PAS government will look like if the Islamist party took over Putrajaya.
According to PAS, the head of state and his cabinet members must be those of the Islamic faith from the most dominant community.
Muslims, according to Hadi, will be policymakers and shape the country’s direction. Non-Muslims will only be appointed as experts and managers.
Hadi’s statement comes as the party’s election director Dr Ahmad Samsuri Moktar said PAS will be fielding non-Muslim candidates in the 14th general election.
PAS the kingmaker?
Kartini, of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said Hadi’s statement was a tactic to get Malay-Muslim votes by distinguishing itself from Malay party Umno.
Umno, which is PAS’ chief electoral rival, consistently works with non-Malay allies in the Barisan Nasional coalition to form governments.
“This is a tactic to fish for Malay-Muslim votes. The message is if you vote for PAS, the whole cabinet will be Malay-Muslim. But if you vote for BN, the cabinet will be diverse,” she said.
Another analyst, Dr Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, said Hadi’s statement would make it difficult for the party to become a “kingmaker” to influence whatever government would be formed after GE14.
“A kingmaker requires cooperation from other parties but this kind of talk, though it can appeal to hardcore Malay Muslims, can scare away a substantial number of non-Malay Muslims,” said Kamarul said of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).
PAS leaders have said the party wants to win enough seats in GE14 to be the kingmaker in any future government.
Dr Wong Chin Huat of the Penang Institute was even more caustic of Hadi’s idea, but added that it also posed serious questions for Muslim voters.
“Hadi is basically chasing away non-Muslim votes for all PAS candidates, if there is any left.
“What kind of non-Muslim will vote for a party that believes they (non-Muslims) are inferior… that they can only be ruled but not part of the government?
“If the West tells Muslims that they are not fit to be leaders and they should not complain because they are already given rights, won’t they be accused of Islamophobia and racism?
“If Muslims reject such hypothetical bigotry in the West, can they agree with Hadi’s plan in Malaysia? I’d like to hear what other PAS leaders, such as (party deputy Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man) and (vice-president) Iskandar Abdul Samad have to say about this.”
MEANWHILE, according to Malay Mail:
KUALA LUMPUR ― The idea of an all-Malay Cabinet line-up is irrational as it rejects the concept of diversity in politics, Pakatan Harapan leaders have said.
They were referring to PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang who said the federal Cabinet should consist of only Malays as they are the majority race.
“An all-Malay Cabinet is a far-out concept in our new political climate and is not rational.
“Even Islam teaches tolerance and cooperation and embraces a diverse society,” Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub told Malay Mail.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) supreme council member Datuk Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff accused Hadi of using religion to suit his conservative political views.
“Islam is very consistent about everything. Islamic principles don’t change colours like a chameleon to suit changing parochial views to suit one’s own narrow political path.
“That is merchandising Islam for narrow politics and I must say Hadi is indeed a merchant trader of Islam, using Islam to justify whatever he wants,” he said.
DAP member of parliament for Klang, Charles Santiago said Hadi’s opinion piece shows he is ignorant of Malaysia’s diversity.
“He speaks of Malay hegemonic leadership of the country and in so doing discriminates against the non-Malays. I do not think Islam allows for other communities to be discriminated upon. If anything it speaks of equality for all people,” he said.
Santiago also drew comparisons to other parts of the world where religion is utilised as a form of governance.
He said many of these societies have seen bloodshed, sectarian violence, a lack of social consultation when it comes to policy-making, and inequality.
“Whereas if you look at nations that do not focus on religion (as a governing system) the inequality is much smaller. The checks and balances on power are very high, and although present corruption is kept under control,” he said.
“He remains oblivious to the Federal Constitution which speaks of everyone’s rights. This is disappointing, coming from the leader of an Islamic party who once spoke of welfare for all but now speaks of Malay-Muslim national hegemony.
“As an Islamic party, this is a poor prescription for the country, something not thought through enough. Hadi really ought to rethink his policies, because PAS can do better I think,” Santiago said.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT / MALAY MAIL