Conventional wisdom affirms that political and religious discussions are two of the most divisive issues in the world.
As and when they are broached, these two topics can split human communities, even families apart.
Yet, there is something even more toxic than the above: political and religious discussions that are led by a cult of religious and political personality.
That label, unfortunately, belongs to Hadi Awang, the President of PAS.
The word unfortunate has to be added to the description of Hadi for five important reasons. If one might add very important five reasons, which requires deep dive and elaboration.
First and foremost, granted that the guilt of ex-prime minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor have been established by the Apex or highest Federal Court and the High Court of Malaysia respectively, both with a hefty custodial sentence and a humongous fine, something is obviously very wrong with Umno, the political party that has nominated Ismail Sabri to be the current prime minister.
Yet to date, almost a month after the guilty verdicts of both culprits who stole millions of ringgit from the people and/or government treasury, Hadi has remained sheepishly quiet.
Something is wrong in the moral stature of Hadi and the PAS party which he has presided since the demise of the late Spiritual Guru Nik Aziz in 2015.
Secondly, instead of pulling out from the ruinous government led by a prime minister who does not know how to handle the increasing cost of living in Malaysia, Hadi has allowed all PAS ministers and deputy ministers to prop up the government.
The love of political power for the sake of political power seems to go above and beyond the love of moral integrity of true Islam.
As Prophet Muhammad SAAS once said, “When one is in doubt over any issue (whether it is haram or halal), leave it.”
Yet, despite the centrality of the important message in Islam, Hadi has done the complete opposite: instead of leaving a government tainted by Umno where there are other Umno Members of Parliament who are also facing avalanche of corruption and CBT cases in the courts, top of whom is the very president of Umno Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, Hadi has consciously chosen to be “dumb, deaf and mute.”
Not only that, he sends his deputies to strike a deal with Umno pre-GE15 which many in Umno resisting, as they know PAS is “sleeping with all-strategy” to maximize position and power it can have.
Thirdly, it does not seem to cross the mind of Hadi and all those in PAS who still root for the wobbly government, that using, invariably, abusing the role of Islam in any situation is downright forbidden.
Such abuses must not exist in any form – be it individual or communal in forms or substances – let alone the national context.
Yet to make matters worse, Hadi has resorted to calling Pakatan Harapan a party of “infidels and the corrupt” although Pakatan Harapan is strongly rooted in combating corruption.
Should ex-chief minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng, the chairman of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) be convicted by any corruption one day over the building of the Penang tunnel from the mainland to the island, there will be zero interference from PH.
Fourthly, it boggles the mind that Hadi, who built his career in PAS as a “Tok Guru” (teacher), does not have any sense of inner shame that both he and PAS have crossed the lines many times over.
To begin with, Hadi has not affirmed that the act of “kafir mengkafir” or accusing others as infidels, is patently wrong and forbidden by Islam as the basis of any discourse.
For truly it is “God and God alone who knows the affairs of His Servants’ heart.”
Thus, when all of “Amanat Hadi” (Hadi’s verdict of calling others as an infidel) is not taken back by Hadi and PAS, the whole party that comes under the leadership of his party and Hadi, brings serious opprobrium to the image and reputation of Islam.
One of the most noble acts of Islam as embedded in its tradition is to “speak truth to the powers that be.”
Short of distorting Islam completely in the eye of all Malaysians, if not the whole world, Hadi has remained totally defiant to and against what true Muslims really want, that is to keep Islam forever pure, principled and pristine.
The current PAS religious minister Idris Ahmad, in his sheer audacity, in the name of streamlining fatwas, has actually deleted the fatwa on Amanat Hadi on kafir-mengkafir as deviant teaching.
Finally, Hadi has in his own way, selective or otherwise, perjured the good name of Islamic jurisprudence.
When editors and ex editors of The Edge, especially Azam Aris, were hauled up to face charges of exposing the manipulation of the stock market based on an article published by on the abnormal surge in penny stocks in 2020 and 2021, once again Hadi and PAS remained coyly silent, silent to the degree of being uproariously defiant if not downright manipulative.
When Hadi and PAS have taken Islam – the final Abrahamic faith who continues to respect Christians and Jews as “Ahli Al-Kitab” (Believers of the Revelation of One God) – to the lowest of the low in the eye of devout Muslims and the world of those who continue to want to study and understand Islam in its own authentic spirit, then Hadi and his cult-like believers in PAS are actually bending Islam from what Quran referred to as “Al Siratul Mustaqim” (The Straight Path).
As this is written, the war drum and clarion call for GE15 is being sounded by one faction of Umno.
Zahid Hamidi even announced that Umno/BN is ready for GE15 even if the massive floods come. He did not say how and whether they will help the people expected to suffer as a result of the forecast massive flood.
Islam and democracy can coexist. The will of the people can be the will of God. Not unlike how Caliph Abu Bakar was elected by consensus to succeed the role of Prophet Muhammad SAAS after the demise of the latter from natural cause of old age at 63.
Yet, what Hadi and PAS have done is to sink their fangs deeper into the constitutional monarchy of Malaysia. This is done by bleeding it dry through drips and draps.
Instead of speaking up against corruption, Hadi and PAS have held their annual muktamar or party convention to affirm that only PAS deserves to be in power for PAS and PAS alone – to quote one of their blindly mistaken followers – “is the straight way.”
Yet again, how can Hadi and PAS live up to the hallmarks of Islam of being a comprehensive faith that is deeply offended by all acts of corruption, theft and larceny?
In the Quran, it is clear: “And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly or send it (in bribery) to the rulers in order that (they might aid) you (to) consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know (it is unlawful) (Al-Baqarah 2:188).
At a time when up to 90 per cent or more of all Malaysians do not have enough to even enjoy the notion of retiring at 60, let alone 65, Malaysia is obviously in serious and systemic need of all-round institutional reforms.
Malaysia is now at the precipice of a serious meltdown. Not only has the country been ravaged by corruption, coronavirus, climate change and the corrosive effects of a deleterious trade wars between China and the West, but the clash of two Pan-Slavic neighbors, i.e. Ukraine and Russia, that has refused to relent. These are all problems starting with a capital C.
Indeed, research by Nikkei Asia has found that world trade has risen to a high of 60 per cent in 2002 as and when China was already a year into being a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
As this is written in 2022, a full twenty years later, world trade has dropped to 50 per cent, with the US and China bent on “decoupling” their economies from each other.
As a trading nation, Malaysia is caught in the eye of this geo-economic and geo-political storm. The best way to lift Malaysia up is by improving the standing of Malaysia in Transparency International, World Competitiveness Index and its efforts to address the problems of climate change, coronavirus and the cost of rising credit due to ever higher interest rate.
Hadi and PAS have not touched on any of these issues over the last two years since PAS has decided to inter-breed with a government that was undemocratically formed from under the nose of Pakatan Harapan on March 1, 2020.
Sheer silence implies the consent to allow Malaysia to rot.
Malaysia is indeed rotting. The ringgit has been weak since the transition of the government of Pakatan Harapan to the one today. Inflation has made close to 1.7 million active and retired civil servants living in livid fear of how Malaysia might be the next trajectory to Sri Lanka.
There are 60 countries under the watch list of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, according to President Joko Widodo.
The latter may not have mentioned it, but there is a high probability that Malaysia is one of the 60, or would become one of the 60 soonest, if the likes of Hadi and PAS continue to work closely with a clueless Umno administration that has all but been hollowed out of any administrative talents.
May Allah Save Malaysia!
(Dr. Rais Hussin is the CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.)