Why Pas is not for me

In the hope of broadening the party’s appeal in Selangor, a Pas leader is now regurgitating the party’s old ‘Pas for All’ slogan of the Nik Aziz era.

Pas has, of course, been incredibly successful in winning the Malay-Muslim vote. It emerged from the 2022 election as the largest single party in parliament. It also made impressive gains in Selangor. But Pas knows that without sufficientnon-Malay support, it cannot tilt the overall political balance in its favour. Non-Malays may be a declining demographicbut they remain a significant bloc in several key seats. This is the backdrop for the revived ‘Pas for All’ initiative.

I cannot speak for others (though I suspect not a few will share my views on this) but Pas is not for me for several reasons.

First, the many statements and actions by Pas leaders over several decades – all of which are a matter of public record – has led me to the conclusion that Pas is simply not sincere. It is disingenuous, devious and duplicitous. Pas leaders say, for example, that the party will be fair, respectful and tolerant of our diversity but it has not stopped them from demanding the exclusion of non-Muslims from leadership positions, denigrating other religions and blaming non-Muslims for the ills of the nation.

No Pas leader of any standing has ever apologised or disowned any of their disgraceful and bigoted statements. If they are saying all this while still in the opposition, just think of what they will do when they are in government.

Second, Pas has simply no clue how to run a modern economy. Look at their track-record in Kelantan where they have held absolute power for decades. Kelantan remains one of the poorest states in the country, a state that cannot provide economic growth, jobs and even clean drinking water.

Selangor Pas information chief Zurk Ahmad in announcing the ‘Pas for All’ campaign promised that under PAS rule, Selangor would become “more prosperous and able to provide more job opportunities and transform Selangor into an economically competitive state, ensuring corruption-free politics, and improving the utilisation of resources.”

If Pas can really do all that, why haven’t they done so already in Kelantan or even Kedah? The truth is they are too obsessed with religion to even begin to comprehend how to run a modern state. They are great at coming up with all sorts of initiatives to punish people for the slightest infringement or for curtailing the rights of others but utterly hopeless when it comes to improving living standards, attracting investments or uniting the nation.

Third, Pas disrespects our Federal Constitution, a constitution premised upon secular liberal parliamentary democracy. Going by its own publicly-avowed objectives, Pas aims to transform Malaysia into an Islamic theocracy where everything will be subject to the whims of the mullahs. If they succeed, Malaysia would become another repressive andautocratic theocratic state like Iran.

I don’t want to live in an Islamic state. I don’t buy the Pas narrative that everything will be hunky dory in their theocratic state. I’ve already seen what they stand for – the bigotry and intolerance, the curtailment of our rights, a harsh legal system along with brutal punishment – and I want none of it.

Whenever the issue of Pas comes up, comparisons are invariably made between the leadership of the late Pas spiritual adviser Nik Aziz and current president Hadi Awang. The message seems to be that if only Hadi could be more like Nik Aziz, non-Muslims would have less trouble supporting him. There’s no doubt that Nik Aziz was a humble, honest and highly respected leader but I for one wouldn’t have voted for him or Pas simply because Pas stands for a system of governance that I do not trust nor do I believe would be good for Malaysia.

At the end of the day, Pas is simply bad news for Malaysia. It’s just not the party to lead us forward at a time when Malaysia is facing great challenges. They have no answers to any of nation’s problems. They are divisive, intolerant and regressive. It will be a dark day for Malaysia if they were to take power in Putrajaya.

I know that standing up to the Islamists might be a futile endeavour but I will hold fast to the Malaysia that that was bequeathed to me by Tunku Abdul Rahman. Here I stand; I can do no other.

Dennis Ignatius is a former diplomat who served for 36 years. This article was first published on his blog yesterday.