MCA President Dr Chua Soi Lek and other MCA leaders have gone on a rampage against PAS, arguing that a vote for PAS will mean the end to religious freedom for the non-Muslim community and individual liberties in the country.
Dr Chua has gone to the extent of arguing that while “UMNO is not perfect, it has corruption”, it is still a better choice than PAS for the latter’s religious principles.
The MCA President’s statement is only half-correct for not only is UMNO corrupt, it abuses Islam as a political tool to promote extremism, ultra-conservatism to spread fear among Malays against non-Malays and non-Muslims. Dr Chua has intentionally chosen to turn a blind eye on the fact that UMNO’s attempts to curtail non-Muslim rights far exceed anything PAS has to offer.
Over the past 2 years, we saw how UMNO attempted to monopolise the use of “Allah” for Muslims only and prevent Malay-speaking Christians and Sikhs from using the term for their religious prayers. The UMNO-led BN government, of which MCA is an integral part of, has chosen to fight the Catholic Church in court to restrict the freedom of the latter’s community. This is despite the fact that the term “Allah” is used by even Christian Arabs and Jews in the Middle East for centuries, commonly regarded as the home of Islam.
UMNO leaders have also sensationalised DAP MP Teo Nie Ching’s attempts to foster greater ties with the Muslim community by visiting mosques and taking part in their community activities. Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein even condemned Teo for having desecrated the mosques and insulted the religion as she was “unclean”.
UMNO’s intentional procrastination over the issue of conversion to Islam by a spouse in a civil marriage has resulted in scores of broken families and untold suffering. Non-Muslims like Tan Cheow Hong, Indira Gandhi, Nedunchelian, Shamala, and Genga Devi were told by the BN government that they must go to the Syariah court in order to exercise their constitutional rights to raise their children in their own religion.
UMNO leaders have also promoted extremism by supporting activities promoting hatred among the various races and religions, such as the “cow-head protests” against the construction of a Hindu temple in a Muslim-majority residential area. They have also used Islam at their convenience to protest against welfare policies of the Penang state government, arguing outrageously that the RM100 appreciation for the elderly is “not halal”.
In all of the above events and more, MCA has demonstrated its hypocrisy by doing absolutely nothing and remaining absolutely silent like a mouse, despite being a partner of UMNO in BN.
In contrast, it has been PAS which was highly vocal in fighting UMNO extremism and defending the rights of non-Muslims in Malaysia. PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang has openly defended non-Muslims’ use of Allah in Parliament arguing that even the Quran permits and cited such usage. It was Tok Guru Nik Aziz who comforted and defended Teo and encouraged her to continue visiting mosques and building bridges between the various communities, arguing that even Prophet Mohamed received non-Muslim visitors in the mosques. It was PAS MP for Shah Alam, Khalid Samad who stood his ground against the UMNO orchestrated onslaught to defend the rights of the Hindus in his community to build their place of worship.
It is clear as day that PAS has chosen the path of moderation while UMNO has chosen to abuse religion to achieve its political goals at all costs. Worse, MCA has chosen to abet UMNO in the process to ensure its own political survival by protecting UMNO and attacking PAS for supposed extremism.
The rakyat in Tenang needs to make a choice between PAS, a party which has proven its moderation in its words and deeds in defending non-Muslims in the interest of justice and equity, or UMNO which will stop at nothing, including manipulating the people’s religious sensitivities, promoting extremism and dividing the nation according to racial and religious lines, to hang on to political power.