In Malaysia An Islamic Golden Age Kleptocracy Theocracy




FOR some Muslim Malaysians, the Umno-PAS charter is a dream come true as it resembles the Medina charter or piagam madinah – an agreement that became the foundation of the first Islamic community in history
Before signing the Umno-PAS charter, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told a packed PWTC convention centre that the agreement today was inspired by the one forged in Saudi Arabia 1,400 years ago
The similarity plays on a deep-seated wish for a revival of Islam’s golden age when Prophet Muhammad unified rival Arab tribes of Muslims, Jews and Christians
In fact, that is how Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki described the Umno-PAS pact – it would pave the way for a new golden age in Malaysia as the two biggest Muslim political forces leave behind decades of enmity to unite and rescue Malaysia
Observers, however, are not so sure. For one, 21st century Malaysia is a different political landscape than 6th century Saudi Arabia. Second, the Prophet and his companions were not beset by corruption scandals like the Umno leaders of today
Also, Umno and PAS are united against another group of Muslims who also claim they are working to realise Islam’s ideals of justice, equality, compassion and charity
“Rural, traditional Malays, and those who are older, will be attracted to this idea of the ‘piagam’ because it is like a revival of the Medina charter. They will be attracted to what Umno and PAS are offering,” said political scientist Dr Mazlan Ali
“But in reality, this charter is to unite to take on Pakatan Harapan ruling coalition,”   said Mazlan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)
The charter, called muafakat nasional (national accord), is driven by six thrusts and is aimed at promoting a new narrative driven by Umno and PAS that is supposed to rival PH’s “Malaysia Baru”
Malay-Muslim leadership is the central pillar of the new accord with a promise to protect the rights of other ethnic and religious communities
Najib Razak is among the attendees at the signing of the muafakat nasional charter between PAS and Umno at the PWTC yesterday. The former Umno president and prime minister is now facing multiple corruption, money-laundering and abuse of power charges in relation to 1MDB and SRC International. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, September 15, 2019.“The pact is a strategy for both Umno and PAS to marshal support and revive their spirits after their GE14 losses,” said political analyst Mohd Azlan Zainal
Umno is attempting to latch on to PAS’ Islamic image to build a good perception of itself and to repair its credibility after being tarnished by corruption scandals, said Azlan, executive director of polling outfit Ilham Centre
Zahid along with former Umno president and prime minister Najib Razak have been slapped with more than 100 charges of fraud, corruption and money-laundering which occurred while they were in high office
Umno itself is being sued for receiving funds stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB)
“PAS is also trying to trying to deepen its support among Malays by taking advantage of Umno’s wide network,” said Azlan
“The PAS-Umno pact is not more than a tie-up to regain power and rule Malaysia again.”Economy v ID politicsBoth parties chose to base their charter on a Malay-Muslim nationalist narrative because this is what worked in the Cameron Highlands, Semenyih and Rantau by-elections, said Azlan
In the run-up to charter’s signing ceremony, Umno and PAS leaders boasted of how they will be able to control at least eight states in the 15th general election by getting the lion’s share of Malay votes
Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob said by ensuring that the Malay votes are not split like they were in GE14, PAS and Umno would be able to win at least 127 seats in GE15
Azlan of Ilham said the political calculus is not so simple and both parties would have to make serious concessions to unseat an incumbent coalition
First, they would have to campaign as a formal coalition and use a single symbol. This would mean either PAS joining Barisan Nasional, which Umno leads, or they would have to create a new one
“To prove to the people they are serious in their pact, they must form unity governments in the states they rule, which are Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis and Pahang.”Umno-PAS must campaign with parties with strong grassroots support from non-Malays and those in Sabah and Sarawak, said Azlan
“If it’s just Umno and PAS, they will likely increase their support in Kedah, Perak and one or two more states but they will unlikely be able to take over Malaysia. It’s impossible for any coalition to win without getting support from Sabah and Sarawak.”Although Umno-PAS are selling a vision of a romanticised Islamist government, Mazlan of UTM doesn’t think that all Malays will buy into such a narrative
“It is older voters, whose lives are stable who will be the most attracted. The majority of voters in GE15 will be young and they are mostly worried about jobs, wages, the economy and whether they afford to buy houses,” said Mazlan
“If Pakatan can solve these problems in three years, they have a chance against the Umno-PAS narrative.”– https://www.themalaysianinsight.com

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