The hullabaloo over the memorandum submitted by 9 non-Muslim Ministers to the Prime Minister, now withdrawn, has actually been one fought between UMNO and PAS, with those 9 Ministers sandwiched in between.
I don’t normally give credit to UMNO but I believe the majority of UMNO Ministers including the PM have been reasonably fair on recent issues related to Islam or Muslims. While the burial of the later M Moorthy is unlikely to be reversed due to immense religious sensitivity and ‘face’, there have been conciliatory statements from a number of UMNO Ministers, which have led the 9 non-Muslim Ministers into believing a formal lodging of their constituencies’ grave concerns might just be opportune.
But PAS, so dependent on the Muslim constituency decided to launch a pre-emptive strike on UMNO – instead of waiting till the next election to raise what they perceived as UMNO’s less than Islamic policies, like the conciliatory statements on M Moorthy’s case, the PM’s assurance that sub-clauses relating to religious conversion could be reviewed, the holding back of implementation of the passed Islamic Family legislation, and horror of horrors, the Cabinet’s instruction to disband the snooping Taliban-ish vigilantes.
PAS wants to present itself as the Islamic hero, stemming back the tide of non-Muslim hordes at the gates, that have been poorly manned by UMNO.
So PAS took a leaf out of UMNO’s book, used to threaten other ethnic groups never to question the rights of Malays, by flipping to the page on Islam. It then organised a protest rally to, get this, support PM Badawi against any tampering of Article 121(1)(A) and even managed to pull some PKR and UMNO members in to join the Islamic Party’s rally, using the alleged threat poised by those non-Muslim Ministers against Islamic supremacy as the motive.
That put UMNO on the back foot and the result was predictable. An orchestrated UMNO campaign against the ‘inappropriateness’ of the memorandum was escalated until the PM emerged victorious with the 9 Ministers required to withdraw the memo.
Muslim and UMNO pride have been restored, even more so when a cringing Gerakan Lim Keng Yaik thought he would salvage something out of the face-losing withdrawal of the memo by fawningly saying “I only listen to the advice of my PM, we now only listen to the advice to our PM because we have every respect for him”. Instead he ended up looking like an obsequious sycophant.
But PAS Husam Musa didn’t let the PM escaped, stating that it’s all the PM’s faults. Afterall, the sanctity of Article 121(1)(A) wasn’t PAS’ real objective – it wanted UMNO’s and in particular, Ahmad Abdullah Badawi’s blood.