I wrote this letter to Malaysiakini, an independent Malaysian online newspaper, in response to one of its readers, Arbibi Ashoy, who wrote in to condemn the Chinese in the Pengkalan Pasir constituency in Kelantan for being 'shackled by bigotry' in not voting for PAS, a Malaysian Islamic political party, in the recent by-election:
Arbibi Ashoy's worldview encapsulated in Vote Islamic state or police state? is typically two-dimensional. It's his usual case of no other alternative except that of an Islamic label because the rest are all rotten.
He had considered the fallout from the notorious ‘Squatgate’ scandal as a natural motivator for Chinese Malaysians to vote for PAS in the Pengkalan Pasir by-election, to protest against the alleged police brutality. That perception in itself is not unusual as politics has always been a dirty game, and in that by-election, many did wonder whether Chinese Malaysian voters would submit to their parochial emotions.
But when the Chinese community in Pengkalan Pasir, according to an MCA claim, refused to play the racist ball that Arbibi Ashoy had hoped for, he lambasted the Chinese for their inability to free themselves from the 'shackles of bigotry'. Shackles of bigotry? Isn't that rich of Arbibi?
Here has been a person who had wished for the Chinese voters to vote with their ethnic emotions against Umno for its vicarious responsibility in the victimisation of what was thought then to be a Chinese woman. And he has the gall to accuse them of bigotry when he learnt from the MCA that those Chinese voted instead for the Umno candidate.
But let us put Arbibi's outburst as an act of immature tantrum, and allow him that. As I mentioned, he has a simplistic two-dimensional view of everything, as demonstrated by his free world tour plus commentaries of Egypt and Kazakhstan. What has been far more damaging to his party PAS was what he had said additionally.
He bemoaned the preference of the Chinese voters as an expression of 'racial sectarianism'. Arbibi might not have realised it but he has, according to his pronouncement, effectively acknowledged that PAS is an ethnic party, which is racially unpalatable to the Chinese voters. Could it be a Freudian slip?
I feel sorry for his party, PAS, because Arbibi has recklessly shot it in its foot, by positing that the party is naturally anathema to non-Malays, and thus by his argument of 'racial sectarianism', must be a Malay political party rather than an Islamic one. Poor PAS – there it has been valiantly trying its utmost to promote itself as a supra-ethnic political party with universal values of equality, justice and godly values, when along came one loose cannon demoting it back to a provincial ethnic-based organisation.
And his petulant anger at the recalcitrant non-compliant Chinese voters in Pengkalan Pasir had relied solely on an MCA claim that might not have contained an iota of reality. Who knows, maybe every Chinese voter had cast their ballots for PAS? Wouldn't that be ironical?
To be frank, his reckless utterances have inflicted serious collateral damage to his party PAS, and have been the result of impetuous and lazy analysis. Wasn't he the person who attempted to martyr-ised the slain Jemaah Islamiah terrorist bomber, Dr Azahari Husin, who had murdered many Balinese, including innocent women and children?