WHEN Umno/Barisan Nasional was the ruling party its leaders took the path of moderation as Umno had the political power to determine all aspects of governance.
Umno was a secular materialistic political party whose leaders’ modus operandi was: the end justifies the means. Thus, it used all means including religion, which was used merely as a ritualistic expression of piety and not as an integral element of governance.
PAS, on the other hand, had always taken a divisive stance promoting the Malay/Islamic agenda. The only voice of moderation within PAS was its late president, Tuan Guru Nik Aziz, who promoted a policy of social and religious accommodation.
When Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang assumed the presidency, he took on a hardline stance, negating the sentiments and reality of a plural, multi-cultural and multi-religious society.
He instilled a scenario of fear that Islam and Malay rights were being threatened by the non-Malays. And PAS members swallowed his rhetoric hook, line and sinker without exercising any critical evaluation.
This racial and religious slant further exacerbated the polarisation of ethnic groups.
After the 14th general election, Umno was in dire straits having lost power and its top leaders were exposed to be mired in corrupt practices and abuse of power. In their effort to regain power, they abandoned their moderate stance and resorted to the race and religious card by aligning with PAS to form the Muafakat Nasional in the guise of salvaging Malay rights and supremacy.
To further this agenda, they are taking advantage of the turmoil in the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, which is embroiled in a leadership tussle, by, for example, trying to pass a motion of confidence on the premiership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and wanting him to run the country for the full mandated term.
One may think it is odd that the opposition is trying to wade into the ruling coalition’s internal affairs. But on the other hand, it is a clear attempt to destabilise the government and distract them from addressing social and economic woes.
Umno believes that it still has the clout to influence the running of this country.
Umno and PAS will take every opportunity to distract the government instead of becoming a responsible opposition.
Thus far they have succeeded in intimidating the Malays by instilling the fear syndrome and to be dependent on them to save their lot.
They have created apprehension by proposing a new coalition of Malay political parties, namely, Umno, PAS and Bersatu purportedly to rejuvenate Malay supremacy.
It is high time that these politicians from both sides of the divide, who have the temerity to assume that they have the carte blanche to determine the fate of this country according to their whims and fancies, to desist from the convoluted shenanigans and serve the electorate who elected them.
Datuk Dr Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin lectures and lives in Penang.