When Umno and PAS fight, M'sia will lose - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, April 01, 2021
Malaysiakini : "PAS has been troubling Umno since. Even today, they are troubling Umno. It’s nothing new." – Ku Li
COMMENT | The real issue facing Malaysians who do not want a theocratic state is not the hissy fit between Umno and Bersatu but rather the fallout from whatever happens between Umno and PAS.
Umno clash with Bersatu is just another manifestation of how Umno
potentates and factotums jostle for power as they have been doing for
decades, which has seen electoral losses but not a repudiation of Malay uber alles politics.
nearly all my columns I have argued that the existential threat facing
Malaysia is not the antics of a kleptocracy or a kakistocracy but
religious extremism. As race and religion are not mutually exclusive in
this country, the threat from majoritarian religious extremism policies
is a clear and present danger when it comes to the social and economic
ecospheres of this country.
In times of political uncertainty in
the Malay political establishment, we can rely on two dominant modes of
propaganda and repression. The first is to scapegoat the DAP for
everything wrong with the country and the second, to promote “Islamic”
policies which would act as connective tissue between supremacist ideas
and victimhood narratives.
The Umno people I speak to have only
disdain for PAS. Back in the day, they had a modicum of fear and respect
for the revered PAS leader the late Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, if only
because he reflected the kind of Islam that was foreign to Umno folks.
At least publicly.
As someone who had “issues” with Tok Guru and
who publically expressed them, it is important to keep in mind that PAS
supporters and the leadership under Tok Guru were steadfast in their
narratives about a kleptocratic government, the high cost of living and
the values of Islam in a Malaysia which was compromised.
bothered the hell out of Umno in the old days was that they always had
to demonstrate that Umno was the genuine defender of race and religion
in this country. They were supposed to be the only game in town when it
came to Islamic values in this country.
Hence, they were always
trying to out-Islamise PAS in terms of rhetoric and policy but they were
always hampered by the economic and social realities that were needed
for a functional country and which would have been destroyed if Tok Guru
and PAS had their way.
For decades, Umno was the gatekeeper of
Islam in this country. Umno defined Islam and PAS was the voice of
dissent, playing the long game of slowly building consensus against the
narratives of the Umno state.
Recently, because of a compromised
Umno, they made inroads into mainstream Malay/Muslim politics and no
doubt aided and abetted by the deep Islamic state.
Also helpful to
PAS was their time in Pakatan Rakyat when the “PAS For All” propaganda
was mixed in with the Bangsa Malaysia Kool-Aid.
those of us were warning the opposition that they could work with PAS
but not enable the normalisation of Islamic policies and propaganda in
this country, political operatives were extolling the virtues of the
Islamic party under the illusion that PAS was different under Tok Guru.
They ignored the long-term implications of such placations. Remember Lim Kit Siang’s "Islamisation" through the Constitution bunkum, which came after PAS left the opposition?
No secular alternative
It really does not matter if it is the "court cluster" or the "cabinet cluster".
What Umno will do, especially if they go to war with PAS, is to attempt
to demonstrate PAS's political and religious irrelevancy by advocating
or enacting extreme religious policies, thereby demonstrating that Umno
is the sole defender of race and religion in this country. More
importantly, it is in a position to implement such policies.
fact is that the opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim would no doubt waffle
when it comes to these types of policies or rhetoric because of the
“don’t spook the Malays” narrative.
And that whatever belated
opposition by the DAP and non-Malay political operatives from Pakatan
Harapan would just be defined as anti-Malay or anti-Islam propaganda
points to the danger we are in.
Let me be very clear. There is
enough empirical evidence that laws solely meant for Muslims in this
country have a direct impact on non-Muslims hence this separate but
equal canard is just another example of how religion is used by
unscrupulous politicians to subvert democratic and social norms in this
Abdul Hadi Awang and PAS are not what is wrong with Islam
in this country. PAS is a religious political party and as such their
agenda is to Islamise this country. What is wrong with Islam in this
country is that Muslims don’t have a secular alternative to Umno’s and
PAS' interpretation of Islam.
An alternative that is not merely
an alternative interpretation of Islamic dogma and history but a real
secular alternative in terms of policies to what is offered by the major
Islamic political entities in this country.
Recent comments by compromised Umno political operatives on strengthening syariah
law and going at it alone – all traditional PAS concepts – are
dangerous because it puts more pressure on political and social groups
that oppose such measures. It makes the opposition play defensive
because they will not commit to any alternative other than mainstream
While the political establishment in Sabah and Sarawak can rattle their sabres about religious meddlings
from the peninsula, the reality is that they will do what is best for
them and the religious diktats will not be felt as harshly as in the
Furthermore, as in many “Islamic” states, the political
elites will be shielded from these laws and policies which the average
Muslim citizen is subjected to. As it is, the “non-halal” economy
is under relentless assault from the political mainstream operatives
who are doing everything in their power to dominate the field when it
comes to religious issues.
Umno still has not learnt that even if
they win in their political fight with PAS, Malaysia will always lose
and they will not inherit the gravy train. Instead, they would have