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  • PAS' support for MCA is putting MCA in a spot in the eyes of the Chinese.

By Mohsin Abdullah

A friend of mine, a Chinese gentleman, tells me the reason the Chinese community is angry with the MCA is because the party tolerates its long-time ally Umno to foster ties with PAS.

There are other reasons of course, but this one is the “current” reason for the community to be angry with the party, although admittedly there are Chinese who voted for Pakatan Harapan last year are now feeling “disappointed” at developments and state of affairs thus far.

Apparently the MCA is viewed as not only to be tolerant but also supportive of the Umno-PAS marriage.

Political survival and strategy notwithstanding, most Chinese, I would say, understood all that.

PAS has continuously succeeded not only in frightening but also hurting the feelings of the Chinese with their religious and racial rhetoric, especially since last year’s GE14. And they have upped the tempo after their marriage with Umno who incidentally has also stepped up the same “Islam and Malay” rhetoric. No elaboration needed as to what the rhetoric is. We know the story all too well.

And the MCA is well aware of this but it’s a little too late for the party to back track now. The party needs the support of Umno and PAS, for example, in the coming Tanjung Piai by-election, rather especially for the Tanjung Piai by-election.

That apart, MCA after all is still in BN (despite threatening to leave some months ago) and Umno is leading the coalition. So, if Umno wants to marry PAS, who is the MCA to stop the wedding, right?

The best it could do is to keep its distance from PAS, or appear to do so after being seen tolerating and supporting the Umno-PAS tie-up. But it's not easy, and PAS itself is not making things easier for the MCA.

As we know, for the Tanjung Piai by-election the BN has picked Wee Jeck Seng from the MCA as its candidate. This according to political analysts is to soothe fears among non-Muslims, especially the Chinese, over the Umno-PAS pact. The two Malay parties also want to show that they are all for “inclusiveness” and are not “racists”.

So, Umno has called on its members and the Malay community to vote for the MCA candidate. Fine and good. And PAS has made similar calls. Fine and good also -- although the party’s stand towards non-Muslim candidates before this is well known.

How many times have we heard of PAS leaders echoing remarks by their president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang that it is compulsory for Muslims to vote for Muslims only?. Not to mention PAS is also a proponent of the recent “Buy Muslim First” campaign.

But in Tanjung Piai, PAS has changed its tune and wants its supporters to vote for MCA. “Buy Chinese First” perhaps? Well and good. But here’s where it gets tricky for the MCA. In other words, PAS' support for MCA is putting MCA in a spot in the eyes of the Chinese.

An MCA candidate seen friendly with PAS is not in the best interest of the candidate as far as getting Chinese support is concerned. What more one who is endorsed by PAS? If that is not “bad” enough the things PAS are saying in expressing their support are not helping matters.

Just listen or take a look at what PAS has been saying. PAS national Ulama head Dr Nik Zawawi Salleh said his party’s “don’t vote non-Muslim” stance is something not permanent. That should be good, I would say. But then he also said that would also depend on “certain circumstances”.

What “circumstances” he did not say. That to me can be “disturbing” for MCA or any other non-Muslim parties for that matter, as as well as non-Muslim communities generally.

His president Abdul Hadi Awang had this to say. He said the opposition bloc needed non-Muslims who were “not extremists”, like the MCA.

On the one hand it’s good that he sees MCA as “non-extremist”. But what is PAS’ definition of “non-extremist”? Are “non-extremists” as he sees it, those who are subservient to his party and Umno?

The most telling must be this one, uttered by Kedah PAS state commissioner Ahmad Yahya.

In a Facebook posting he said, “Voting the Chinese MCA in Tanjung Piai is the same as buying Malay Muslim items that are sold by a Chinese salesperson. While they are sold by the Chinese (MCA), the owners are Malay Muslims (Umno-PAS)”.

No doubt Ahmad is trying to justify PAS’ support for MCA. The message chiefly aimed at its own members and supporters who have been told previously, in other elections, to snub non-Muslim candidates.

But what he is saying can be seen as having negative connotation. Detractors can't help but ask: is he saying or accusing the MCA candidate and the MCA itself as being “owed” by Umno-PAS, that the MCA man is just a “symbol” or a “figurehead”?

I hope that’s not the case but to many people it surely sounds like it.

(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist and now a freelancer who writes about this, that and everything else.)

 

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