Sunday, December 31, 2023

“Islam has never been under threat but only our national unity and political stability”

“Islam has never been under threat but only our national unity and political stability”

By Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang

A FRIEND sent me an article “Social media and the manufacturing of Malay-Muslim insecurity” by Dr Hew Wai Weng and Dr Nicholas Chan.

This is an article that must be read by all Malaysians to understand why the first Pakatan Harapan (PH) government fell after 22 months as a result of the Sheraton political conspiracy, ushering in the first “backdoor” government helmed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The two authors noted that over the past few years, many politicians, activists, preachers, academicians, influencers, “opinion leaders” and cybertroopers in Malaysia have been active in drumming up Muslim insecurity and the narrative of “Islam under threat”.

It was this Muslim insecurity and the belief that Islam in Malaysia was under threat that toppled the first PH government.

But was Islam in Malaysia under threat?

Islam in Malaysia was never under threat. What was under threat was national unity and political stability in multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-civilisation Malaysia.

This was why the Yang di Pertuan Agong (YDPA) suggested the formation of a unity government in the aftermath of the 15th General Election (GE15) which was rejected by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition of PAS and Bersatu.

Tan Sri Hadi Awang (left) and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

In its first year in office, the Anwar unity government had to fight for its life as Tan Sri Hadi Awang (PAS president) and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (Bersatu president) were confident that the Green Wave triggered by the PN in GE15 could topple the Anwar unity government.

They were expecting this to take place after the six-state elections on Aug 12. But the Green Wave failed to develop into a tsunami during the state polls although it was a force to be reckoned with as shown by the results of the Kemaman parliamentary b- election.

The two writers of the article argued that efforts to understand the Green Wave must not overlook the social media dimension and in particular the role played by PAS through a network of party activists, influencers and preachers to spread the message of “Islam under threat” across various social media platforms – especially on TikTok – with race and religion central to their campaign.

The article referred to the negative campaign strategy whereby calls to vote are paired with existential stakes which constantly evoke apocalyptic scenario for Islam and Muslims if PN loses the election (which did not happen although proving a negative is almost impossible).

It said: “The real concern for Malaysian democracy is that such ostensible subscription to electoral norms is part of a dark participation whereby uncivil activities that ranges from misinformation to hate campaigns and to cyberbullying only erodes long-term trust and functioning of democratic institutions.”

Let 2024 be a year for national unity and political stability.

Equally important, let it be a year when Malaysia carry out reforms to reverse the national decline in the last quarter of a century to become a great world-class nation. – Dec 31, 2023

Retired DAP supremo Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang was Malaysia’s longest serving opposition leader of 29 years on three separate occasions.

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