Mat Sabu highlighted the growth in Penang’s Islamic Affairs allocations since the state came under PR rule. — Pictures by Jack Ooi
SHAH ALAM, April 8 — PAS leaders beefed up efforts last night to woo the Malay community in the heartland of frontline state Selangor by attempting to convince the electorate here that they have not betrayed them for the Chinese.
The leaders whipped out anecdotes, accusations and scores of examples to prove their Islamist party was not subservient to the Chinese-dominated DAP, which it partners in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition along with PKR.
Umno leaders and the party’s newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, have often tried to rattle PAS’s cage, accusing it of being subservient to secular DAP.
PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu, also known as Mat Sabu, said at a rally last night that Umno was merely trying to frighten the Malays into submission although its “propaganda” was no longer effective.
He also accused Umno critics of being hypocritical, pointing out that they also work with the Chinese.
“Yes, (Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr) Koh Tsu Koon is a Javanese,” he remarked sarcastically to drive home his point to the virtually 100 per cent Malay crowd.
“And Lim Chong Eu was a Bugis,” he added.
Rani asserted that a PR victory would see more Malay MPs in Parliament.
The rally, held at Stadium Melawati here, was organised as a platform for key opposition leaders to defend the Pakatan Rakyat-administered Selangor from Barisan Nasional (BN) in the upcoming general election, as well as to celebrate the PAS’s 25th year in the state.
Both Koh and the late Lim were the former chief ministers of Penang and leaders of Gerakan, a long-time partner with Umno in BN.
Mat Sabu noted that DAP has often been criticised as chauvinistic and anti-Islam by Umno, but said that Penang’s Islamic affairs department had received more money under the DAP-led state administration than under Gerakan.
“The first year this ‘anti-Islamic’ Lim Guan Eng gave RM20 million; the second year, it went up to RM24 million and the third year it was up to RM33 million,” the PAS VP quipped.
“By the fourth year, his hatred of Islam was so apparent and he was so anti-Malay he allocated RM64 million to Islamic Affairs.”
Selangor PAS chief Dr Abdul Rani Osman earlier said that the maximum that the Islamic Affairs department received under the BN administration was RM12.5 million.
Mat Sabu said that “politics was perception” and Umno was trying to paint the picture that nobody would take care of Malays if they lost power.
“But with PAS and PKR, we will have more Malays in Parliament if PR wins the next general election,” he asserted.
Abdul Rani alleged that Umno knew that 98 per cent of the hardcore poor, those in households earning under RM400, in Penang under Gerakan are Malays and that the number had been reduced to zero under DAP.
PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also helped defend his PAS colleagues last night, telling rally participants that while it was important to defend Islam, PR would not resort to “cheap political tactics”.
He said this while referring to the officially-sanctioned seminar in Johor last month that focussed on the “threat of Christianisation”, which sparked outrage among Christians.
“There must be fundamental understanding of religion,” he said. “Umno is ignorant about religion.”
DAP lawmaker Tony Pua acknowledged that he had been painted as racist by some pro-Umno critics for questioning the recent deal that saw a Malay businessman walk away with an estimated hundreds of millions in profit after he sold the Maju Expressway toll concessionaire that had been built largely with public funds.
“When we attacked Tan Sri Abu (Sahid Mohamed, the owner of Maju Expressway), Umno said ‘Tony is racist’,” said Pua. “But we don’t look at race. As long as it is cheating we don’t care if it’s Indian, Malay, Chinese or Japanese.”
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP pointed out that he also attacked the recently awarded West Coast Highway (WCE) over its questionable terms and conditions such as the doubling of the concession period to 60 years.
“It (the WCE) was given to Kumpulan Europlus – the taukay is Chan Ah Chye – is he a Malay?” said Pua.
At its general assembly in December last year, Umno identified DAP as a “real threat” to the Malay agenda, claiming the latter was responsible for the erosion of Malay special rights.
Attacks against the opposition party were a focal point of the Umno meet as delegates accused DAP leaders of marginalising Malays in PR-held states and challenging the sanctity of Islam as the country’s state religion.
While others have dismissed renewed attacks against DAP as mere “Pakatan bashing”, some Umno leaders have insisted that the party poses a danger to Malays and that a future with the DAP in power would spell disaster for the community.