— The Malaysian Insider
April 18, 2013
APRIL 18 — Oh dear, how the roles are being reversed?
The political party that gave us the voices of reason and moderation of Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Dr Ismail is now succumbing to more shrill tones and providing cover for divisive characters.
And on the flip side, the political party that once struck fear in the hearts of non-Malays for its fire and brimstone tone and narrow world view is now being increasingly seen as the centrist party, home to some of the country’s most inclusive politicians.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Shah Alam, where incumbent Khalid Samad of PAS is pitted against Zulkifli Noordin of Barisan Nasional.
Nowhere is this change of scenario clearer than on the campaign trail from Masai in Johor to Baling in Kedah where PAS politicians talk about non-Muslims as brothers and not ungrateful, demanding Malaysians.
Nowhere was this more evident than when Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently played the race card and raised the possibility of racial clashes if Lim Kit Siang won in Gelang Patah, and PAS’s Mahfuz Omar offered Malaysians the protection of his party if violence erupted.
Not long ago, non-Malays looked to Umno for protection or at least comfort. Now, non-Malays have a warm, fuzzy feeling when Khalid Samad speaks.
Not hard to figure out the seismic change. One party has abdicated its centrist position and has been pulled to the right by the likes of Dr Mahathir, Ibrahim Ali and Zulkifli, preferring to view issues through the prism of Malay nationalism and rights and unafraid to make provocative statements like burning the Bible.
PAS, on the other hand, while still a refuge to some jarring voices like Haron Din and Hadi Awang, has over the years understood the reality of this country: that more than anything, Malaysians do not want to be enemies with each other. All they want is to be treated as citizens with equal standing.
Khalid Samad understands this fact. And that is why he stood up to the Umno guys who paraded a cow’s head in Shah Alam in protest against the building of a Hindu temple. It is for this reason also that he has reached out to Christian communities in the constituency.
He sees it as a normal function of an elected representative: standing up for and serving ALL his constituents.
Way before Zulkifli insulted Hindus and Indians, he showed his true colours by storming a Bar Council forum on religious conversion.
The man has no respect for non-Muslims or for people who have different opinions than his. Yet, he is championed as BN’s transformative candidate.
How things have changed for Umno!