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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Don’t let them PAS the buck

The Kelantan government has no excuses for its failure to deal proactively with the flood crisis.
COMMENT
pas kelantan2To say that PAS’ conduct in the East Coast flood crisis has been disappointing is to put it kindly. Even Prime Minister Najib Razak, so often accused of incompetence and lacking the sense of urgency, has been on the ground, actively involved in the rescue and relief efforts in Kelantan, PAS’ traditional stronghold, the proud bastion that it has held on to against Umno’s furious attempts to storm it.
And yet, as the flood waters kept rising and thousands continued to flee their houses, PAS decided that it was more important to have a state assembly sitting to pursue its hudud agenda instead of going to the ground to help those in need.
Worse, it even tried to pass the buck to the Federal Government, saying it was the responsibility of the various government agencies to deal with the crisis. PAS seemed to have forgotten that as the ruling party in the state, its duty was to make such problems known to the Federal Government, to lobby for the development of the state instead of being obsessed with implementing a criminal justice system that seems at odds with the times.
Thankfully, the PAS representatives seem to have eventually realized just how incredibly insensitive and tone-deaf it would be to have their “special meeting” instead of helping in the relief efforts, and so the plug was pulled on the sitting as the reps were too busy with the flood relief. But that it took so long for PAS Kelantan to realize that it was perhaps more important to tend to the people shows a huge disconnect from what PAS needs to do and what it’s highest authorities think it needs to do.
This mindset is perhaps best displayed in a posting from its spiritual leader’s son, Pasir Mas MP Nik Mohamad Abduh Abdul Aziz, on his Facebook page, declaring that “the flood is a reminder to all Muslims to return to Allah’s ways and stay away from His wrath. It necessitates the perseverance of the Kelantan government to implement hudud laws.”
This abhorrent sentiment attempts to make use of the worst flood disaster in recent memory to further a political – yes, political, not religious – agenda when thousands of Malaysians are displaced from their homes and have to rely on aid day by day to continue surviving. The logic itself makes little sense, considering the conservative values of Kelantan, which has borne a large brunt of the floods thus far. Wouldn’t Kelantan have been spared, if we use Nik Abduh’s logic?
PAS needs to get it’s priorities right. Regardless of what moderates and liberals think of the hudud criminal system, if it is approved constitutionally and by the state lawmakers, it is PAS’ right to implement it. That is indisputable. However, this single minded pursuit of a political goal has seemingly blinded the party’s higher ups to compassion and human decency.
So we know now that we would have been misguided if we thought that saving its constituents was foremost on PAS’ mind. And this is a sign that Malaysia’s supposedly most religiously devout political party has lost track of its moral compass, its basic humanity.
Once the floods have receded and the rebuilding begins, PAS must re-evaluate its direction and values. Religious thinking without morality and compassion is as disgusting as hollow rhetoric.

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