BY PHLIP RODRIGUES – The national unity that PAS has in mind will not ensure lasting peace in the country. On the contrary, it is a surefire way to civil unrest and strife, which no one wants to see happen.
PAS still does not want to accept the social and political reality on the ground that Malaysia is a land of many races and faiths. It has been ruled, and is still being ruled, by a political alliance that treats all citizens as equal partners.
This is the formula that has kept the peace for so long, and yet Abdul Hadi Awang, the torchbearer of the Party of God, has refused to acknowledge the distinct advantages of such a political arrangement.
Instead, the PAS president wants to tear the tested political pact and draw up a new coalition in which the majority race would dominate all the corridors of power, and the official religion would play a prominent role in any decision-making process.
In reality, what Hadi is advocating is an undisguised hankering for undiluted power solely for the benefit of one section of society. In his skewed political view, all levers of authority will be controlled by the dominant race.
What will the future of the people of other faiths be like in Hadi’s narrow world? Bleak. Dreadful. Alarming. With all political power concentrated in one hand, and not shared with others, everyday life for others will be an unrelenting cycle of fear and resentment.
The flaw in PAS new but frightening world lies in its unapologetic push for Malay-Muslim dominance. How can national unity be forged on the anvil of race and religion? Such a one-sided unity will only fan the flames of mutual distrust and antagonism.
There is something cunning about Hadi. The politician in him comes into play when he preaches about uniting the country. To allay the anxieties of his fellow citizens of different creeds and to give the whole thing a sheen of respectability, he speaks about realising his goal in terms of democracy.
But what is democracy? It cannot be forming a national unity government based exclusively on religion and race. It cannot be excluding other races from the cabinet. It cannot be regulating the life of the nation according to a strict code of religious laws. Democracy is all about the joy of living together as equal citizens and equal partners – without Hadi looking over your shoulders.
For PAS, the signpost to Putrajaya is a road to gaining mastery over every facet of a citizen’s life. But to get there, Hadi might choose a shortcut by forming, first, a national unity government, and then, somehow winning more seats in parliament and emerging as the leader with the largest majority, with the unchallenged right to rule the country on its own steam.
Once PAS is in the driver’s seat it is not far-fetched to imagine the party tightening its grip and restricting, or eliminating, whatever freedoms the people have been enjoying for decades since independence. It would only pay lip service to religious and racial tolerance. Instead of building a “Shangri-La whereby we can all live in peace, happiness and prosperity”, Hadi would rather see a deep split in our society.
PAS is raring to get started its campaign to capture the coveted prize in Putrajaya, and impose its style of democracy on the country. Its national unity plan, based largely on the supremacy of religion and race, is certainly a recipe for disaster.
Hadi must realise that the concept of the right of the majority to rule and dictate is outdated. It is even dangerous because it will generate bad feelings and widespread discontent among the marginalised section of the population. When public anger reaches a boiling point, it will spill over and scald everyone.
In a modern state, the right to rule must be based on equal political rights. The minority has as much right as the majority to steer the ship of state. All are working to promote the common wellbeing of the nation.
The coalition system of government has been working well for Malaysia. All the different political parties in the pact get to participate in making laws, framing policies, implementing projects. But in Hadi’s Malaysia the minority will be shut out, probably disenfranchised, and true democracy will come to grief. Only political Islam will hold sway.
PHLIP RODRIGUES is a retired journalist.
*The opinions expressed above are those of the writer or publication and do not necessarily represent the opinions of New Malaysia Times.