A senseless siege that will self-destruct

by SHAMSUL AKMAR / pic by BERNAMA

Last Saturday, a rally dubbed “Defending the Sovereignty of Islam” was organised with a very clear objective that the current government had allowed Islam to be undermined. The accompanying subplot is that the Malays have also been displaced and the powers of the Malay Rulers eroded.

In essence, the rally is an attempt to tell the Malays that their future is in jeopardy under the current government.

While several Malay/Islamic-based non-governmental organisations were listed as part organisers, the backbone to the rally are Umno and PAS, and it is not a secret as their leaders were among those who delivered speeches during the event.

It was, however, cut short because of a downpour. Regardless whether the rain was divine intervention or otherwise, the rally is another of a series of moves where PAS and Umno are justifying their collaboration on grounds that Islam and Malays are under siege and in effect creating a siege mentality among the Malay Muslims.

While such a strategy has always worked well in any political crisis, especially when the economic well-being of the unwitting masses are not too healthy, it is the insidious nature of the strategy that is chilling and nauseating at the same time.

It is chilling because of the lack of conscience and concern in the use of religion and race for pure political expediency, knowing perfectly well the devastating effect the move has on the very race and religion they are championing.

It’s nauseating because of the hypocrisy of the advocates. One side was silent when the nation was plundered and looted, while the other was part of the plundering and looting crowd.

To make it doubly amazing, not in the positive sense, is that among the institutions they had plundered and looted were those strongly associated with Islam and the Malays — Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) and the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda).

These two institutions were almost stripped bare. And what the new government, which they accused of undermining Islam and Malay, had done is to inject billions of ringgit to these two institutions to keep them afloat and operational.

In other words, PAS is working with Umno, the very party whose leaders are responsible for the looting of Tabung Haji and Felda.

How does their collaboration equal to defending Islam and the Malays?

If anything, PAS should be accused of collaborating with a party, that is Umno, which had abused the trust of the Malays and destroyed an institution that is supposed to elevate the Malays from their economic sufferings — that is Felda — as well as fleecing a strategic and crucial Islamic institution — and that is TH.

Do note that many of the dealings were done in the name of Bumiputera interest so as not to exclude those in Sabah and Sarawak.

And if PAS is anything it claims to be — the last bastion of Islam and the self-proclaimed authority of the religion, at least within the political sphere — it should be in the forefront in opposing Umno and particularly their scandalised leaders.

Instead, unabashedly they embraced, hugged and shared the stage with these unscrupulous personalities and agreed to collaborate to chart the nation’s political direction, providing new narratives based on ethno-religious or right wing politics.

If previously, PAS leaders claimed ignorance to the shenanigans of Umno when in power, the current court case that sees former Umno president Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in the dock where daily revelations point towards the billions of dubious transactions into private coffers, should amply enlighten them to the crime.

If that does not suffice, the return of the monies amounting to billions from the US and Singapore governments should amply prove that the money was truly siphoned from Malaysia and those were public funds.

Otherwise, why should these governments return those monies, amounting to over RM1 billion and counting, to Malaysia? Surely, it is not out of their good nor generosity.

Further to that, surely too, the PAS leaders and their supporters, and the supporters of Najib are still not aware that Malaysia had ceased to be a kleptocracy since the fall of the Umno-led BN government exactly one year ago.

Today, Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, 93, stood before an audience at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, to deliver a speech to mark the first anniversary of the Pakatan Harapan government which also meant his first anniversary as the 7th PM.

He spoke about a vision where the nation will have “Shared Prosperity”, in which it is a nation that is inclusive and committed to ensuring the wealth is fairly distributed and every citizen enjoys a decent standard of living.

Juxtapose that to the Saturday rally which wants to place the Malays under siege. Obviously, a community under siege sees enemies everywhere and most times without reason nor rhyme, and most times can be self-destructive.

Then again, self-flagellation works with some disciples.


Shamsul Akmar is the editor at The Malaysian Reserve.