It’s just politically-motivated

It is very magnanimous of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to forgive Nanyang Siang Pau for its caricature of him and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia over his bill to amend syariah laws in Kelantan.

By apologising, he has presented a face of Islam rarely seen by the rest of the world. A Muslim leader when criticised, forgives. If it is Islamic to forgive, then it would mean that all the Muslim terrorists in the world and those who engage in religious vigilantism are not practising what their religion teaches. Maybe, Hadi should take to the world stage and urge Muslims everywhere to follow their religion and forgive. That, surely, would dampen this bloodlust that is rampaging across the world.

But, seriously, was there a need for Hadi to forgive? Did Nanyang Siang Pau do wrong in publishing a caricature in which Hadi and Amin were depicted as monkeys fooling around on a tree named Act 355, in reference to Hadi’s private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), to increase shariah punishments in  Kelantan?

The bill was the last item tabled on the last day of the Dewan Rakyat assembly on April 6, but the debate was deferred to the next session.

To me, the Chinese daily’s cartoon was creative fair comment. Two politicians using the bill for whatever their reasons. That’s an issue for public debate, in Parliament and in the public sphere. I don’t understand why PAS members reacted so angrily to a caricature of their leader as a monkey.

How come no one said anything when Hadi referred to Umno and Pakatan Harapan (PH) as lizards when he commented that associating with BN (Barisan Nasional) was like carrying a live monitor lizard on your back and joining PH was like carrying an even bigger monitor lizard?

It’s true that monkeys have a connotative meaning implying playfulness which monitor lizards don’t have. But, it is still a caricature using words while the Chinese daily used a cartoon. Why is one wrong and the other admissible?

Public figures are publicly accountable. Their actions will be reported and publicly debated. Reporters write. Cartoonists caricature. The Chinese daily merely did its job. There was no insult to anyone or to Islam.

It upsets no one’s sensibilities except PAS supporters’ sensibilities because the underlying reasoning behind PAS supporters’ reaction is that non-Muslims must not say anything negative about their leaders or their religion.

C’mon! Grow up! Equals talk. If you see yourself as an unequal and feel disenfranchised you will feel the need to assert yourself by telling everyone else not to do anything that you usually can’t handle.

In the course of discussion, if anyone does a wrong, it is the right of the wounded party to take the other person to court. Otherwise, wouldn’t it be better to talk and leave it at that? Isn’t that a healthier form of public discourse instead of getting angry over the slightest difference because you can’t handle it?

Nanyang Siang Pau was gracious. The moment they realised that they had offended some Muslims they apologised, even though, I feel they didn’t have to. Hadi responded by doing the same. End of story.

Having said that, I ask why doesn’t Hadi forgive the DAP? The two parties exchanged some harsh words over Act 355 resulting in PAS leaving PH. But why not forgive the DAP and get back into the PH?

Or, is it the case of selective forgiveness? The Chinese daily apologised so Hadi could be big-hearted and forgive. The DAP hasn’t, so, we shouldn’t expect Hadi to forgive the party.

So, it is political rather than religious? PAS mustn’t be seen as giving in to DAP.

All these shenanigans by our politicians have led me to the conclusion that when our politicians speak — no matter what they say — it is politically motivated. They may say whatever they say in the name of high democratic ideals, reforms, progress or development or even religion. The base reason, however, is simple, plain political expediency.

When incumbent leaders speak, you know it is for their political survival at whatever cost. When religious party leaders speak, it is for the same reason. They want to be seen as putting their religion first in order to maintain their support base and increase it, especially if they feel their support is shrinking or threatens to shrink.

When opposition politicians speak you know it is to bring about a change in government. But, we can trust opposition leaders more because they have the least to lose.

When Malaysian politicians speak, it might be better for the rest of us not to take them seriously. Listen to everyone, understand their political motives and vote for those who can best advance your interests.

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