On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

The PAS way to keep critics at bay

But she assured us, two non-Muslims, that Umno leaders
were working hard to tackle PAS via different approaches.

We told her that from our impressions, some Umno politicians had refrained from
a political fistfight with PAS because they feared being labelled

Worse, the perception, rightly or wrongly, is that in some places, Umno leaders
have even attempted to compete with PAS leaders.

Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Mydin has so far stood out as the
loudest critic against PAS.

I would also like to highlight the stand taken by fellow journalists who have
expressed their indignation towards religious extremism through their writings,
in the face of abusive telephone calls, hate mail and even death threats.

For example, writer Farish Noor, who has written extensively on Islam and PAS,
has decided to take a break because of such threats coming from people who
purportedly cherish press freedom and freedom of speech.

To silence its critics, PAS has adopted this intimidating approach – any
criticism of PAS is equated with criticism against Islam.

To hush up the non-Muslim critics, they are dismissed as ill-informed minorities
who have no right to touch on policies pursued by the party because of its
religious elements.

When the rights of non-Muslims have been encroached upon, PAS leaders instantly
warned them of "the rights of the majority."

The recent statements and actions by PAS leaders such as acting president Datuk
Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat are
certainly alarming.

While no one can fault them for consistency – such as their ultimate goal to
set up an Islamic state and to replace secular laws with syariah laws – the
party had issued some fresh orders recently.

Non-Muslims in Terengganu found out recently that dancing, involving men and
women, had been banned. Never mind if the event was organised for senior
citizens by the MCA.

Then, a Deepavali function which featured Indian female artistes was also
stopped by the PAS leaders.

Next, Nik Aziz blamed the use of perfume and glossy lipsticks as a main cause
for rapes, saying such provocative seduction should not be encouraged.

The state has also set up a department, similar to the moral police in Iran,
which goes around arresting youths with hairstyles deemed to be

The state has already imposed a gender segregation policy in supermarket
checkouts and other public places.

On Thursday, Hadi continued his political antics by saying the police had
condoned vice activities in the state because the police allowed women to sing
at functions organised by them.

The police, he alleged, had not cooperated with the state authorities in
enforcing hudud and qisas laws passed by the state assembly in July last

Except for the DAP, which is determined to regain its Chinese base after
disastrously working with PAS in the 1990 general election, the other
opposition parties have kept silent on issues affecting our moderate way of

Opposition figures from Parti Keadilan Nasional and Parti Rakyat Malaysia, for
the sake of political expediency, have refrained from responding to the many
actions of PAS.

Always quick to talk about political rights and principles, these politicians
are, however, turning a blind eye to these PAS pronouncements.

In many ways, these parties are responsible for the momentum gained by the
Islamist party. Many of the opposition leaders readily defended PAS and its
policies in their election campaign.

Unless these apologists stand up and stop PAS from steamrolling its policies
through, Malaysians will lose the way of life they have become accustomed