I am not sure what the PAS government in Kelantan is up to, in its proposal to introduce the Islamic dinar and dirham currencies.
Senior PAS official Husam Musa said the currencies would first be introduced in the Islamic system of pawnbroking, the Ar-Rahnu. He said the gold and silver coins could be used to pay civil servants as an alternative to the national ringgit currency. According to Islamic law, the dinar measures 4.25 grams of gold, while the dirham is 3.0 grams of pure silver.
Islamic law? Or is it just an Arab form of currency. Sometimes PAS members find it hard to distinguish between Arab practice/culture and Islamic teachings (which admittedly had its genesis in an Arab environment). That’s why we see some of them wearing clothing more suitable for the drier desert environment.
Husam said at a seminar on Islamic banking and finance: "If there is no problem with the Ar-Rahnu, there is a possibility that it can be implemented in other sectors."
Is there a problem with the Malay ringgit? The ringgit has been with us for eons. Why bring in Arab currency now? It gives us the impression, rightly or wrongly, that PAS leadership prefers to be Arabs rather than Malaysians?
Husam proposed that the Kelantan state government would introduce the new currency within three months. He wanted the dinar to be used as a state official currency to pay civil servants.
But he said: "The state government employees can choose either to be paid in dinars or ringgit." In that case, why bother then with the dinars?
Husam Musa, please tell us how does this system of dual currency, in a confusing offering of both Malay and Arab denomination, assuming it would even be permitted, promote the higher cause of Islam?
I am afraid PAS has become like UMNO, fiddling around with the inconsequential, instead of aiming for the more important issues of erasure of corruption, misogyny (gatal-ism) and intolerance, and to promote compassion, equality (even for women) and justice.
Of course the PM shot it down, warning that state governments cannot issue their own currencies. Everyone including Husam knows state governments can’t do that. That would be like declaring Kelantan as an independent nation.
So what is Husam up to do, if not grandstanding? Has it been a cheap ploy to fortify his Islamic credentials or was it to apply Islamic pressure on the UMNO-led government, reigniting the holier-than-thou insurrection?
I must say that I am disappointed with such a peripheral issue coming from a man like Husam Musa, from whom I expect better. I was hoping for high level PAS policies on matters of anti-corruption, accountability, transparency, inclusiveness and a vision of a fair, equal and just society, regardless of race, creed or religion – basically a vision of a golden Malaysian caliphate.
If this is the sort of PAS’ policy mentality that we can expect, I’ll be less sympathetic to its role in Malaysian politics.