By P. Ramasamy
GEORGETOWN, Malaysia--PAS might give the impression that it is a righteous religious political party.
While others pursue blatant material interests, PAS seeks to guide Muslims in the country along a correct religious path of Islam.
While other political parties pay a token respect to religion, PAS seeks to give the impression it is above the mundane and worldly requirements.
From time to time, since the party is a religious one, its leaders seek to give their views on a variety of matters.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, the response of its leaders were simple, uncomplicated and straight to the point.
Even its supremo, Hadi Awang, said on a number of occasions that the pandemic was an act of God.
In other words, although he did not say explicitly, he said it was God’s punishment.
While the government was busy controlling the spread of the pandemic with the imposition of movement control order and other measures including the procurement of vaccines, PAS leaders took the higher moral ground by saying that it was the will of God.
Such a position meant among other things that nothing much could be done to bring down the infection without the intervention of God.
Rather than guiding its followers to adhere to government directives in checking the spread of the pandemic, PAS took a different approach of shifting the responsibility to God.
Now with the pandemic being slowly brought under control, thanks to the availability of vaccines, I wonder whether PAS would be able to give credit to research, science and technology.
Recently, as a result of unusual tides and rainfall, massive floods hit different parts of the country.
Lives and properties were lost. Many were made homeless.
The government given its overlapping jurisdiction and sheer inertia was unable to do the right thing.
In fact, there was no government to deal effectively with the massive floods.
Fortunately, ordinary people sprang to action to save the lives of many, to bring in food and other necessary supplies.
The government leaders, politicians, civil servants were not there to assist the victims.
PAS leaders were nowhere to be seen.
Strange enough, the vociferous PAS leaders had little to say about the floods, their causes and were responsible.
However, as the floods were fast receding, the environment and water minister and deputy president of PAS Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man blamed the public for not taking weather forecasts seriously.
Strangely the man who should have been most concerned about the weather and rainfall should have been Tuan Ibrahim himself.
As a minister in charge of environment and water, he should have been in the forefront when the floods hit many areas.
After the floods receded, he emerged to say that the public must take responsibility but not the government.
By blaming the public, Tuan Ibrahim was not only irresponsible but disingenuous.
He knew very well how the public, ordinary men and women, scrambled to assist the flood victims.
Politicians, including him, civil servants and heads of public agencies were nowhere to be seen.
Yet this high-ranking PAS leader in the name of Tuan Ibrahim has the temerity or the audacity to blame the public.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, PAS leaders shifted the responsibility to God.
However, with the massive floods, there was a change in the orientation of the party.
The blame was cast on the apathetic and indifferent public.
Of course, the righteous PAS leaders were blameless.
If the environment and water minister Tuan Ibrahim has no sense of what happened, then why is he staying in as a minister.
Shouldn’t he be giving his letter of resignation.
Needless to say that there is hardly any sense of guilt or remorse among ministers and politicians in the country.
I understand when the floods hit the country some ministers were overseas.
Prime Minister Ismail Saberi Yaakob belatedly came with the directive to stop ministers from going overseas or taking leave.
But then it was too late as the “horses had left the stable”.
PAS leaders are no different from other politicians in race-based parties.
They might talk about high moral or spiritual ideals, but those are for the unsuspected rank and file.
But insofar as the leaders are concerned, their relationship with the material world is as important to the religious domain.
PAS, despite its manoeuvrings and impressions, is a party that is no different from political parties such as Umno, Bersatu and others.
While Umno and Bersatu are race-based parties, PAS combines both race and religion to give substance to its extremism.
*P Ramasamy is Penang deputy chief minister II and the state assemblyman for Perai.*