A convoy of motorcycles and Terengganu PAS members clad in fake weapons marching in a parade has drawn criticisms from the public.
Terengganu PAS Youth members were seen clad in medieval Islamic war costumes and armed with fake swords, spears and shields.
It was understood that the march was part of a two-day PAS Youth gathering “Himpunan Pemuda Islam Terengganu” (Himpit).
A pickup truck that carried a giant fake sword on its cargo bed was also seen.
The event, which was posted on Terengganu PAS Youth’s Facebook, also showed that among the attendees was the Islamist party president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang.
It is understood that investigations on the PAS event had begun.
Terengganu PAS Youth chief Mohd Harun Esa said the programme was an annual event since 1991 and it was an assembly of the Islamist party’s state youth machinery.
Mohd Harun said there aren’t any elements of violence and provocation, and it was a long tradition by the local PAS Youth divisions to bring their “replicas” to the march.
“Some used the sports theme and some even came with horses during this year’s Himpit.
“There is no violence and provocation. In fact, it was very interesting to see representatives from each division displaying their own ideas,” said Mohd Harun.
“Some even prepared one month ahead to participate in this programme. The traffic police also assisted us in managing the traffic while marches from each contingent were taking place peacefully,” added Mohd Harun.
Mohd Harun also said the usage of medieval war uniforms was also part of the theme of the march.
“Just like marches or cosplay competitions across the nation where they showcase their favourite hero weapons.
“In fact, some war classics in cinema that used weapons are also accepted by society,” said Mohd Harun.
Emir Research CEO Datuk Dr Rais Hussin said PAS is attempting to hijack Islam with certain political narratives and images.
“As Muslims, we cannot allow this. We need to provide the true narrative of Islam,” Rais tweeted.
Save Kelantan activist Mohd Hisyamuddin Ghazali questioned the motive of the event where youth leaders were seen marching with fake weapons.
“Are we going to war? If you look at the event tentatively, the programmes were focused on the gathering of PAS leaders,” said Hisyammuddin, also known as Syam Ghaz on Facebook.
Hisyammuddin also warned that the event could be unlawful.
“Holding a motor gathering event is good enough. For me, PAS Youth shouldn’t be organising such marches, it seems there are elements of threatening public order, even though the weapon was fake,” added Hishammuddin.
Another Malaysian, Alf Shahril, also questioned the motive behind Terengganu PAS Youth’s “cosplay”.
“What is the benefit of this cosplay? Who are you going to war with?” Shahril tweeted.
Other activities that took place in the two-day Himpit event were sepak takraw matches, football, and also motorcycle convoys, which were seen carrying PAS flags.
PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the issue should not be blown out of proportion.
“It is similar to a Chinese opera where the actors also carry swords and spears.
“There is no issue here. It is better for us to focus our time and energy on more meaningful things such as tackling the rising cost of living, education, and social problems,” he told New Straits Times.
Meanwhile, Terengganu police chief Rohaimi Md Isa in a statement today, said the police had been made aware that there would be a contest during the Himpit event where traditional Islamic weapons would be on display.
“However, police were not informed about the march carrying the replica weapons which has caused ill-feeling and unease among some in the society,” he said.
The incident comes three months after the 15th general election, during which PAS campaigners had ridden on horseback in Penang while bearing Islamic flags that drew a comparison to the Taliban.
In the aftermath of the polls, threats of another May 13 racial riot also went viral on Tiktok – some of which had been paid for.
Commenting on the latest incident, de facto Religious Affairs Minister Na’im Mokhtar said marching while bearing replica weapons was unwise and could lead to misunderstanding.
“It can give a bad image to Islam and the country. It would be better for the organisers to highlight the good values of Islam which is peaceful, and promotes unity and wellbeing,” he said.
He added that everyone should play a role in fostering peace and harmony, and that any actions that cause public unrest should be avoided entirely.