Dennis Ignatius: Stop PAS now before it is too late

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PAS leaders both at the federal and state level have neither the expertise nor even the inclination to properly govern.

Recent actions by PAS politicians on the sale of alcohol and the prohibition of lotteries are a potent reminder that PAS has nothing to offer Malaysians other than an intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded sectarian state led by small-minded men with an even smaller vision for Malaysia. Make no mistake; it’s not about alcohol or gambling but about a grand strategy to impose upon the nation a dark and sectarian model where supercilious religious leaders police public morals, decide what we can and cannot do, how we dress, how we worship and what we read or watch. It goes beyond anything seen in other Muslim countries save for Iran where mullahs rule and basic human rights are trampled underfoot.

Now that it has finally acquired a measure of federal power, PAS is showing its true colours. Banning alcohol, needlessly inciting religious discord over the name of a brand of whiskey or banning lotteries are but low-hanging fruits. More drastic measures will surely follow. The trouble with playing the religious and racial card is you can’t stop; you have to keep upping the ante to grab attention, to stay relevant. It won’t end until they turn Malaysia into a state where bigotry, racism and discrimination become the new normal. And then they’ll turn on their fellow Muslims for not being Muslim enough. If they succeed, Malaysia is finished.

For this reason, I have always maintained that PAS – especially under its current leader, Abdul Hadi Awang – is the most dangerous political party in the country. Its ideology is completely incompatible with the Federal Constitution, its vision for Malaysia utterly contrary to that of our founding fathers. It has a long track record of denigrating other religions, discriminating against ethnic minorities and pushing hate and intolerance at every turn.

Furthermore, its leaders both at the federal and state level have neither the expertise nor even the inclination to properly govern. They don’t even have clean drinking water in Kelantan, a state where PAS has held sway for a good many years. A PAS government will quickly plunge Malaysia into the chasm of a failed state.

The Malacca state election is upon us. No Malaysian who truly cares about our future should ever give their vote to PAS or to any party or coalition that collaborates with PAS. To vote for PAS is to sanction the marginalization of ethnic minorities, to approve the destruction of their way of life, to consign our nation to backwardness, decay and decline. To collaborate with PAS is to betray everything that Malaysia stands for.

Political parties have to decide where they will now stand on the most critical issue of our time – the existential challenge from PAS. It is nothing but disingenuity to complain about religious and racial extremism and then continue to collaborate with PAS, the fountainhead of both racial intolerance and religious extremism in Malaysia.

The voters of Malacca too have a decision to make. There is little point in grumbling about the antics of PAS leaders and then giving their vote to parties that are facilitating PAS’s rise to power.

My hope is that the good people of Malacca will send a decisive message to PAS that its brand of politics is not welcome in Malaysia. The same message should be sent to parties like PPBM, GERAKAN, STAR, GPS and SAPP who appear willing to shake hands with bigots in order to gain power. Just look at how these parties have bent over backwards to avoid criticising PAS over the lottery issue – Azmin Ali of PPBM calls for more discussions on the issue while GERAKAN proposes to send a delegation to discuss the matter with PAS (after the Malacca state election, of course). What about condemning these actions first and calling on PAS to stop all this nonsense?

Vote UMNO (especially now that it has broken away from PAS) if you don’t like Pakatan Harapan but keep PAS out at all cost. We might well be able to survive yet more years of corruption and misgovernment under UMNO, but we will not survive a few more years of PAS in Putrajaya. Besides, if UMNO-BN does well on its own – as pundits are forecasting – perhaps UMNO will be encouraged to stand on its own come GE15, and PAS will be consigned to the lunatic fringes of our politics where it belongs.

The battle for Malaysia’s future could well begin in Malacca, the first statewide election in the peninsula since the infamous Sheraton Move gave PAS a foothold. Let’s hope that Malacca will be Waterloo for PAS. I’m ready with my bottle of Timah whiskey to celebrate. I might even go and place a small bet on the number 2011 (20th November) or some variation of it. – Dennis Ignatius