ADUN SPEAKS | Some years ago, PAS had some pretensions of a religious party, but all of that has evaporated in the cauldron of racial politics.
PAS leaders, especially under the leadership of its president Abdul Hadi Awang, are aware of the definite limits of pursuing a completely religious ideology, although religion and ethnicity are coterminous with the Malays.
They are also aware that the pulse of politics is ethnicity and how this can be pushed to the maximum to be relevant in politics.
PAS leaders are a bunch of racists and extremists - they fully realise that even if Islam coincides with the Malays in the country, a religious approach to politics might not get the votes.
When it comes to politics, the party is learning that it pays to adopt an exclusionary ethnic approach.
Such an approach, it is felt, might endear the party to the conservative Malay electorate, long influenced by the worst forms of ethnic politics.
The fact that the party is in the midst of competitive politics with other Malay parties must be borne in mind why PAS has moved away from religion to adopt an ethnic approach to politics.
From religiosity to ethnicity
While religion might be a bit too abstract to gain adherents, engagement with ethnicity promises continuous support for PAS.
This is the reason why PAS has consistently moved from amorphous religiosity to ethnicity, it is not any form of ethnicity, but the most extreme, much more than Umno or Bersatu could profess.
Umno and Bersatu have some responsibility to ensure respect for the existence of the multi-racial population in the country.
They still harbour the thought that non-Malays could be won over to their sides with the right mixture of ethnic nationalism and respect for the Federal Constitution.
But unfortunately, PAS being an exclusive party, has no pretensions of having respect for the multi-racial composition of the country.
If it has its ways, non-Malays might be even excluded from the mainstream of Malaysian politics.
It is no surprise why Hadi has the temerity to blame the non-Malays for being the cause of corruption in the country.
He was the one who once advocated that all the top civil appointments be reserved for the Malays.
For Hadi, Malays can do no wrong; corruption is the work of the greedy and self-seeking non-Malays.
The non-Malays by virtue of their control of the economy and society engender a situation where Malays have become corrupted and tainted.
More extremism can be expected
In days and months to come, Hadi will be expected to say more nonsensical and extreme things about the non-Malays.
Don’t forget, the 15th general election is around the corner, there is a great deal of temptation for Hadi and others to polarise the society further on the basis of incendiary politics.
There is a great deal of tolerance for narrow-minded and ethnic chauvinists like Hadi by the present misguided government.
The government might not act to arrest and charge him for his extreme disparaging remarks toward the non-Malays.
Just imagine a non-Malay leader saying similar things about the Malays, the entire law enforcement division will be upon him.
If Hadi can make such preposterous and inflammatory remarks about the non-Malays, then the real problem is not him.
It is the political system in the country premised on racism and religious bigotry that enabled a person like Hadi to make nonsensical remarks and get away with them.
Similarly in the recent past, disparaging statements and remarks have been made about faiths other than Islam. I doubt the police even care to investigate the hundreds of police reports against the perpetrators.
Hadi can get away by saying unbelievable things about non-Malays because the system allows for such preposterous insults.
P RAMASAMY is the Perai assemblyperson and Penang deputy chief minister II.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.