It has not been a smooth Ramadan in Malaysia for many, but some stand out for their vow of silence while others pour oil on an already raging fire.
The month started on a sombre note from the ‘Islamic’ state of Kelantan which ordered eateries to close from 8.30 pm to 10 pm. The state government issued the order ‘to encourage people to pray more’.
PAS is governing Kelantan after winning the state elections last year after it defeated both Najib Razak’s UMNO party and Pakatan Harapan headed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Malaysia has its own Islamic policing, as it is an offence for Muslims to eat in public during the month of Ramadan. This same moral policing and vigilance also extends to couples who are suspected of engaging in illicit sex.
Kelantan is no stranger to officers roaming the streets with power to issue warnings or summons and on occasion, arrest people for public eating (applicable to Muslims) during the fasting period and couples holding hands, even married ones. Many of them have to pay fines for breaking those rules.
The state of Terengganu is also in shock with damaging revelations made this weekend by non-other than the son-in-law of PAS firebrand leader Hadi Awang.
PAS member Zaharudin Muhammad has listed five individuals from the Islamic party whom he claims are part of a cartel who received money from Umno.
Dr Mahathir made famous the word ‘Dedak’ or animal feed, during the last general elections. He meant cash handouts and other bribery from allegedly stolen 1MDB money, saying those who follow ex-PM Najib Razak are morally corrupt for accepting ‘chicken feed’.
Now Hadi’s son-in-law revealed a ‘Dedak cartel’ in the PAS whom he alleged are the people who received money from Umno.
He cited five individuals as “Dr Hussam II,” “Mr NT,” “Mr KT,” “Mr KH,” and one leading PAS figure as “everyone knows”.
But in another Facebook post, he says taking money from UMNO was by this group or cartel and not the decision of the party or leadership, urging supporters not to fall for traps laid by party opponents in Parti Amanah Nasional, a coalition member in the Pakatan.
Hadi has so far remained silent on his son-in-laws comments while the PAS reels with accusations of corruption and playing second ‘fiddle’ to Umno. The party says Zaharudin will have to explain why he made the revelations.
The defeat in Sabah last Saturday may have rattled the Islamists after they did not win Muslim support in Sandakan. Accusations of electoral bribery by the Umno and PAS did not bite among the public as the Democratic Action Party – painted as the enemy of Malays and Islam by the Umno and PAS – kept the seat with a bigger margin of victory.
While the Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob says a directive to eateries to close between 8.30pm to 10pm to encourage people to pray was “merely advice”, the damage is done. PAS is now seen as an extreme party forcing people to navigate through its own understanding of Islam.
Nevertheless, Najib has been unrelenting during this month of Ramadan, attacking DAP leaders and taunting Dr Mahathir with jibes. He teased the Pakatan Harapan Federal Minister Khalid Samad with a tweet saying he got more people at a Sandakan market than the latter.
This prompted Khalid to respond with a tweet urging Najib not to cry for the loss in Sandakan, showing a picture of a crowd at a Ramadan bazaar in Selangor. Khalid says Najib lied about the market crowd in his tweet. “He has no other issues to talk about anymore and is using fake news?” questioned Khalid.
Kesian bosshang. Calonnya dapat jumlah undi yang jauh kurang berbanding calon PH di Sandakan. Itu fakta yang tak dapat dinafi. Berita kononnya bazaar ramadhan KL tak ramai orang adalah palsu. Dah takde isu, berita palsu pun diguna?
Apa khabar bosshang pagi ni? Jangan nangis naa pic.twitter.com/4fOT1STSDw
— Khalid Samad (@KhalidSamad) 11 mai 2019
And a bigger battle is brewing on social media between Pakatan Harapan and Umno-PAS supporters, with the government troops online feeling good after their party defeated Najib’s ‘Bossku’ image in Sabah.
But the biggest surprise for all is the Johor sultanate’s silence in the face of fresh accusations launched against them by political leaders in the country.
The Johor royals have called for a truce during the holy month, saying they are focusing on doing their religious duties. Their response will come after the Ramadan, sources say. -/TISG