Dennis Ignatius: Gerakan – Delusional and desperate

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Instead of standing up for the rights of all Malaysians in keeping with our constitution, Lau acts as apologist-in-chief for PAS.


In the hope of reversing his party’s fading fortunes, Gerakan president Dominic Lau embraced Perikatan Nasional (PN) which is now dominated by PAS, the radical Islamic party that has made no secret of its desire to turn Malaysia into a Taliban-like Islamic state.

Joining PN was an act of desperation; it could also prove suicidal. If Gerakan is to have any future, it has to regain the trust of non-Malay voters – the same voters who have an abiding and deep-seated distrust of PAS. Every time Lau tries to justify partnering with PAS, he only digs the party’s grave deeper.

Responding to non-Malay fears about PAS, Lau recently suggested that it had more to do with Islamophobia than anything else. “The biggest challenge now for PN is how to win support from non-Muslims,” he told Malaysian Insight. Continuing, he said that “in order to do that, Gerakan has to eliminate their [i.e. non-Muslim] Islamophobia” by educating them.

It must be one of the most disingenuous and outrageous statements I have heard from a politician in a long time. It plays into the hands of extremists and excuses and encourages their appalling bigotry.

Non-Malay antipathy towards PAS has nothing to do with Islam or Islamophobia but about the extremist and irresponsible behaviour of a party that continually exploits religion and sows division and intolerance to advance its political agenda.

Has Lau forgotten Abdul Hadi Awang’s many public statements calling for non-Muslims to be excluded from senior positions in government? Has he forgotten the constant harassment and threats by PAS operatives against non-Muslims over the way they dress or the way they live? Has he forgotten all the hurtful and demeaning statements of PAS leaders concerning other religious traditions?

Mohd Amin Jalil

Is it Islamophobic to speak out when men like Hadi promote extremist views that threaten to undermine the constitutional rights and privileges of non-Malays or say the most hurtful and bigoted things about them? Is it Islamophobic to insist that our rights as citizens be respected?

Instead of standing up for the rights of all Malaysians in keeping with our constitution, Lau acts as apologist-in-chief for PAS. When a PAS MP walked into a mall in Seberang Jaya recently and demanded a prohibition on the open sale of alcohol, Lau played it down suggesting that it was only a “personal view”. And then, rather disingenuously he argued that the sale of alcohol should not be openly promoted the whole year through, but since it was in conjunction with the festive season, it should be allowed. What kind of cockamamie reasoning is that?

Shouldn’t he have used his influence with PAS to persuade them to stop taking cheap shots on issues like the sale of alcohol and start focusing on the issues that really matter to Malaysians?

Lau also seems to suggest that PAS is largely misunderstood and that he has had many positive discussions with Hadi and other PAS leaders. Was he able to persuade Hadi to change his ways and be more accommodating of diversity? Has he managed to get Hadi to reverse his bigoted proposal to exclude non-Muslims from senior government positions? Of course not! The reality is that Hadi is simply using Gerakan to maintain the fictional notion that PAS is accommodating of non-Muslims.

Whatever it is, even a ton of whitewash cannot camouflage the fact that PAS is irredeemably extremist and racist. It has never subscribed to the idea of Malaysia as a secular state in which the rights of all citizens are respected and upheld. Non-Malays long ago concluded that PAS represents an existential threat to them and want nothing to do with PAS or anyone associated with PAS for that matter.

Lau, it appears, still doesn’t get this. Or worse, he is being dishonest with himself and with voters. But that is the problem with parties like Gerakan and both MCA and MIC (which also appeared keen to join PN in the aftermath of GE15); they have lost sight of their goals and now stand as enablers of the extremism that is destroying our nation.

I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised given that Gerakan meekly went along with former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he declared at their 2001 Gerakan annual national delegates conference no less that Malaysia was already an Islamic state.

Lau’s insistence that “Gerakan is a party that defends the interests and rights of all races” is simply not credible for so long as he remains in an unholy alliance with the worst, most dangerous bunch of extremists in the country. With such delusional leaders pursuing such disastrous policies, Gerakan is already dead in the water. – Dennis Ignatius