PAS president Hadi Awang has declared that the reason for the PAS-Umno pact is to ensure that Malay Muslims rule over others in Malaysia. Essentially, it is the same idea that PAS has always advocated — an Islamic state — but now couched in a euphemistic term such as “Malay-Muslim rule”, thinking it will have a greater appeal to the primarily rural Malay majority.
Both parties have been playing on Malay sentiments in making it appear that Umno — and by extension the Malays who support it — is now the victim with the non-Malays in control. Umno succeeded in the strategy of whipping up Malay sentiments in Semenyih. So the Malays, feeling sorry for their leaders and for turning their back on them previously, came out in droves to support them. Apparently, Umno and PAS believe the strategy will work in other constituencies.
Perhaps, in the short term, but definitely not in the long term for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the very phrase “ruling over” indicates the extent of Hadi’s medieval thinking. In the 21st Century, no government rules over its people except when that government is still steeped in medieval thinking such as Afghanistan! In the modern world, governments serve the people to improve the national quality of life. They don’t “rule” as one having power over the other. The term will scare off non-Muslims and, I suspect, a lot of Muslims as well! Whether Muslim or not, who in the modern day want anyone “to rule” over them?
Secondly, If PAS and Umno go on this trajectory to get the Malay Muslim vote, which party will lead? PAS or Umno? If PAS gets more seats, will Umno go along with it? Unlikely. Umno politicians are used to the cushy life and if it appears that PAS is making headway in establishing a syariah state, Umno will be first to jump ship! The marriage will break up as quickly as it was made!
Thirdly, as long as PAS and Umno ratchet up the “anything goes in the name of party, race and religion” rhetoric — in that order! — they will estrange the non-Malays who will resist the PAS-Umno pact. Without non-Malay support how will the two parties form a government?
About 40% of the bumiputra population in East Malaysia are Christian. They will definitely not support Hadi’s Malay-Muslim so-called rule. About 30% of the Malay vote is urban — the educated, capable Malay intelligence — and solidly supporting the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. They won’t support Hadi because these Malays are already ruling together with the non-Malays — contrary to what Hadi or Umno says!
So, it will be impossible for Hadi to achieve his notion of “Malay-Muslim rule” which in effect simply means Islamic state — by his thinking.
Fourthly, just imagine what would happen if by a twist of fate Hadi succeeds in heading towards his “Malay-Muslim rule”. The non-Malays will all relocate to East Malaysia and so will all their capital and finances. Overnight, Peninsular Malaysia will be impoverished but East Malaysia will gain. If the East Malaysians would have had it with Hadi’s non-accommodating ways, Sabah and Sarawak will secede and do well after secession because they will have money and resources. They will develop, probably exponentially. Would the Muslims there leave a rising standard of life and run back to Peninsular Malaysia? Very unlikely.
What will happen to Peninsular Malaysia with a Muslim-Malay rule? It will overnight descend into another Afghanistan! Now, how many Muslims in Malaysia really want that?
All this talk about the supposed loss of Malay rights is plain baloney! A lot of hot air! It’s just a strategy being used by desperate unethical politicians who are exploiting Malay sympathies and the Malays don’t know it.
It may have been PAS votes which gave Semenyih to Umno. But, I see things a little differently — maybe it’s because I’m a woman! Umno won Semenyih because its politicians connected with the ground. Voters who have been left out of the system will appreciate being recognized. So Umno politicians rolled up their sleeves, came down from their high pedestals and hit the ground, engaging the grassroots and that strategy worked.
The Bersatu candidate’s party machinery was insufficient to match Umno’s and what was apparent was that the PH’s total grassroots machinery was not made available to Bersatu.
For PH to win in Malay-majority constituencies, it has to do two things. Firstly, it has to present a united front and bring its entire machinery to the ground and connect with the voters. Secondly, it has to come up with a counter-narrative to Umno’s and PAS’s “all in the name of party, race and religion” strategy and expose it for what it really is — empty talk! The opposition does not have a solid alternative to offer, hence it is playing a game of playing with the Malay mind. PH is the government. It has what the voters want and that must be clearly articulated and communicated to the voters to neutralize Umno’s and PAS’s narrative.
If PH gets its act together, it will succeed. It may not win all the seats but it will certainly win a number.