By Phlip Rodrigues
The one political party that will pose a serious threat to the survival of an inclusive multi-racial Malaysia is Pas.
The Islamist party is brimming with confidence that its time has arrived to take charge of the country’s destiny, with only religion as its principal guiding beacon.
To climb this peak, Pas will have to capture more political power in every general election, and it probably reckons it can only achieve this by fishing for more Malay votes. In Pas’ calculations, the other ethnic groups do not count for much.
This ‘party of God’ will no doubt harp unremittingly on its narrow brand of religion to ensure its message of unyielding faith will reach out far and wide and stay rooted in the minds of the faithful.
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Pas election director Sanusi Md Nor has got the party’s long march to Putrajaya all mapped out. In his war room, this controversial Kedah menteri besar speaks like a general about the party’s preparation for battle.
In the coming general election, the Islamist party wants to “attack” 80 parliamentary seats and is confident of capturing at least 40.
Sanusi gleefully points out that the party now has 17 MPs, of which three are ministers and eight deputy ministers. “Imagine how it will be when we have 40 seats,” he said.
Yes, we can imagine how his party will behave when it has 40 MPs: with 17 it has already caused so much trouble; with 40 it will wreak havoc.
Pas has already mapped out a 30-year plan to capture federal power. It foresees that by 2050, it will have enough MPs to form the next government, with its candidate as the prime minister.
The coming general election will be a crucial test on whether Pas can make further inroads. If the party led by Hadi Awang can seize 40 seats, it would have a big say in the corridors of power.
With 40 seats under its banner, Hadi can drive his Islamic agenda to the forefront of national politics to reshape the landscape of this multi-racial nation.
If Pas can continue to improve its electoral outings over the next 30 years, it will inch its way to a simple majority eventually and later, an overwhelming victory.
But Pas’ political fortunes will hinge largely on how much support it can muster from the Malay electorate – and that is a big question. The party won’t find it an easy ride even within the Malay community, as there are other worldviews around about what the good life should be like.
As it stands, what Pas appears to offer is a toxic mix of race, religion and politics. In an all-out attempt to bend every facet of life to the dictates of religion, the Islamist party could take this potent mix to an extreme at the expense of all the good things in life that are cherished and enjoyed by people of diverse backgrounds and faiths.
Pas may eventually realise its dream of governing the country, but the day a prime minister from the party takes the oath of office will be the day when all the multicoloured lights of freedom in Malaysia will grow dim.
Phlip Rodrigues is a former journalist