PAS' political soul-searching
PAS loves power. Don’t get me wrong; PAS does not love power more than your next politician. They are willing to play the game of sacrificing your principles, trade your horses for benefits and they understand that a route to power is always better than none at all.
PAS loves the sensation of power. As a state government, they are no stranger to controversies in flaunting the wealth of their positions. Buying expensive cars is a must, increasing salary is an option and feeling sorry for enjoying these is not a necessity.
You cannot blame them. Nobody wants to be in the opposition forever. For the longest time, they have failed to find a reason to overcome the animosity with Umno, the last political hegemon. Only on the eve of 2020 did the opportunity come knocking at their door: A Malay-Muslim government.
With 18 seats in Parliament, they became infinitely valuable to Bersatu and Umno’s tug-of-war, and they could finally call themselves the “kingmakers”. State power is nothing compared to federal power. The salary is a few folds higher, the allowances and benefits more comprehensive, and the aura, the smell and the feel of prestige overcome you.
But comfort comes at a price for a small party like PAS. They make the kings, but they are not the kings. In terms of decision-making power, they are but negotiators who concede more than they win. All former opposition parties have to go through this uncomfortable transition in government.
Three months after joining the government, PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (below) admitted that PAS is now a different party. The rapturous days of pursuing Act 355 to allow for partial implementation of hudud are over. The fire of activism has extinguished. Tuan Ibrahim may have spoken too soon. The “forced moderation” has started to threaten the identity of PAS. Without something religious to fight for, they are fading into irrelevance.
More and more Malay supporters are starting to recognise that PAS did not make the government more Malay, or more Islamic. These are functions that could be fulfilled by Umno and Bersatu. After all, what voters needed was a symbolic reassurance that their rights are not threatened. Very few want a total Islamic transformation of the country – something even PAS might not necessarily want.
As time passes, PAS supporters no longer harbour hopes for PAS leaders at the federal level to pursue Islamic policies the way they campaigned before. None of PAS leaders' policies or statements in federal government are Islamic in nature. Forced moderation and mundane administration have taken over.
Therefore, the only hope is at the state level. Kedah’s Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor was eager to carve out a name for himself. By the end of 2020, his state’s local council demolished a 50-year old Hindu temple in Taman Bersatu, Kuala Kedah. It was considered a safe target for political mileage because he had grounds of illegality, which on a religious freedom perspective is oppressive, but on a purely political calculus, made sense to him.
When the arguments got heated with minority leaders, Sanusi (below) managed to fit in a casual racial slur of being “drunk on the toddy of popularity” – an awkward and insulting self-proclaimed “metaphor”.
Sanusi’s recent cancellation of Thaipusam as a religious holiday follows from the lineage of picking petty but oppressive fights against the minorities. The arguments he made were factually incorrect (mixing 2014 with 2017) and logically unsustainable (MCO ruling out any celebration, thus no point of a holiday).
This approach of reasserting their identity will continue. A few days ago, PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad was publicly pushing for an anti-LGBT taskforce. He said that the current laws were not tight enough to prevent “toxic lifestyle (promoted) openly through social media”.
PAS’s women’s chief Nuridah Mohd Salleh went even further by calling this an “act of love” to “save LGBT” from gender confusion. The contradiction is too obvious when it came in only a few days after the prime minister’s commitment to hate speech.
More and more, we will see patterns of PAS leaders advocating for the oppression of minority groups, and worse, sustaining its justification on flimsy and inconsistent reasons. This is PAS finding its place in the political landscape, which at its most powerful, it is struggling not to look weak.
I am convinced that these are still political posturing and nothing more. In that sense, we could be comforted, because at least we know the oppression is not sincere. But how comforted can we be when the politics come at a real human cost? - James Chai
Di Malaysia, bila gagal kasi darurat lapan bulan...
Emergency rule gimmick exposed,
stocks plunge, MCO to end, patients
to pay own bills at private hospitals...
As expected, the controversial and half-baked second MCO (movement control order) lockdown comes and goes – without any improvements. Supposedly to be effective from Jan 13 to 26, 2021, the MCO 2.0 was later extended until Feb 4. Had the partial lockdown not been extended, today would be the expiry of the 14-day lockdown. But does it matter?
On Jan 13, the country recorded 2,985 Covid-19 new cases. Today, 14 days later, the health ministry reported 3,585 new cases. In fact, there were 3 days within the 14-day lockdown that saw more than 4,000 cases. Worse, we did not see a single day that new cases drop to below 3,000. That alone proves the pandemic has gotten worse – not better – despite the MCO.
In the same breath, it also proves that the Proclamation of Emergency announced by the backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Jan 12, which comes a day after he announced the MCO 2.0, has been nothing but a political gimmick to cling to power. He can claim whatever he likes, but Muhyiddin is an illegitimate leader who has lost his majority support in the Parliament.
After the declaration of a state of emergency, a convenient tool to suspend the Parliament to prevent any attempt to topple him, the prime minister took pains to explain to all and sundry that there will be no curfews or military rule. He also assured that civilian government will continue to function. Investors were told that it’s business as usual. He must have thought investors were dumb.
One of the funniest things that happened immediately after the emergency order was the opinions offered by some local university professors and self-proclaimed economists or analysts. The bootlickers claimed investors were incredibly happy with the emergency rule because it provides political stability. If that’s true, perhaps the entire world should go into the state of emergency.
Some analysts at CIMB said the extraordinary great powers accorded to Muhyiddin under the emergency rule could help the backdoor government implement concrete solutions to the country’s health crisis and economic downturn. They had no idea that such a draconian act will not only fail to fix the pandemic, but also undermine investor confidence.
It was amusing when a pro-Muhyiddin blogger argued that an emergency rule was actually good for investors. On the day PM Muhyiddin declared the state of emergency, the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) plunged to below 1,600 points. Subsequently, the government tried to support the stock market, pushing the KLCI to above 1,640. Today, the index plunged to 1,575.31 points.
When Muhyiddin announced the emergency order, he claimed that it was absolutely necessary to combat the Coronavirus, hiding the facts that it was actually his lustful for power that the third wave first started. The current third wave, triggered by Muhyiddin’s second coup to snatch power in the state of Sabah, has been spreading like wildfire since Sept, 2020.
The power-crazy prime minister also passed the ball to the King, arguing that under the emergency rule, the monarch can make the necessary decree to tackle the virus, including ordering private hospitals’ facilities to be taken over by the government if public hospitals are overwhelmed. Yesterday, the Health Ministry said 96 private hospitals have agreed to provide Covid-19 treatment.
But there’s a catch. Even though the private hospitals may now treat Covid-19 patients, the patients have to pay from their own pocket. Apparently, the clueless and incompetent backdoor government is still discussing about the treatment cost and the mechanism for insurance companies to cover these expenses. Naturally, hospital coordination is still on the drawing boards.
So what’s the point of a state of emergency when only the rich can afford to go to private hospitals for Coronavirus treatment, while new cases stubbornly stay above 3,000? Does not this mean the emergency rule is not meant to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic because apparently the government has just started to study about insurance coverage, expenses and whatnot?
What happened to the trumpeted King’s power in taking over private hospitals to save valuable lives under the declaration of emergency? If Muhyiddin regime was not interested, or too afraid to offend the stakeholders of the private hospitals, then why did he rush for an emergency rule in the first place. Obviously the reason is to rule with absolute power like Adolf Hitler?
But the best part is an admission by celebrity Health Ministry’s director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday (Jan 25) that the current MCO 2.0 lockdown may not be extended beyond Feb 4. He revealed the government’s concern about the damage to the country’s economy if the second MCO (Movement Control Order) lockdown is prolonged.
Seriously? It was already bad that a half-baked MCO 2.0 was rushed without a proper study and consideration just over two weeks ago. And now the same clueless government wants to end it even when Covid-19 new cases stay above 3,000? After the expiration of current MCO, the government will possibly reinstate the more relaxed Conditional MCO (CMCO).
Now, here’s the hilarious part. If MCO 2.0 is actually not appropriate because it affects the country’s economy, as suggested by director-general Noor Hisham, why even introduced it in the first place? It appears that it was an admission that the MCO 2.0 was a huge screw-up from the beginning – indirectly proves that the lockdown was unnecessary but designed to justify an emergency rule.
The current MCO 2.0 comprises characteristics or SOPs (standard operating procedures) that look more like the previous CMCO rather than the highly successful MCO 1.0 first introduced in March 2020. The fact that the ministry of health is satisfed that a CMCO is sufficient proves again that the proclamation of emergency was not about tackling the pandemic at all.
International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali rubbished on Monday (Jan 25) calls for a total lockdown despite the unrelenting Coronavirus outbreak. Instead, the gay minister has mooted more stringent procedures. But it was Azmin who told manufacturing stakeholders last Friday that the Health Ministry was considering a “total lockdown” if the MCO 2.0 fails to show improvements.
Not only the hopeless government shows utmost incompetence, it also contradicts and flip-flops among its ministers and head of departments. Even if it’s a correct strategy to scrap MCO and replace it with a milder CMCO, will the regime also withdraw the emergency order on Feb 4? If not, can PM Muhyiddin explain why he still needs the state of emergency until its expiry in August 1?
With just about a week to go before the Feb 4 Judgement Day, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today that the National Security Council (NSC) special meeting has not decided on the next course of action. He said the government “is still listening” to different opinions because it cannot afford to take the risk of seeing 2.8 million people losing their jobs – an important vote bank.
It would just cost the cash-rich government RM5.6 billion if it pays the 2.8 million people RM2,000 each for a strict lockdown to fix the problem once and for all. After all, did not the genius Finance Minister Zafrul insisted a GDP growth of between 6.5% and 7.5% for 2021 despite the emergency declaration and the second round of the movement control order (MCO 2.0) enforcement? - FT
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