Pas President Abdul Hadi Awang gave one of the most significant policy speeches as a leader of the Islamic party. Critics of the party's alleged exclusive Islamic ambition and its unholy liaison with Dap should sit up and take note.
Hadi said "Pas upholds and defends the rights of all Malaysians regardless of their faith and not just Malays" and told his detractors that "Islam was not tied to any race or national identity, and its basic tenets pushed for fairness for a plural society with people from different religions." He emphasized that "Pas embraced the idea of pluralism in a society and the need to care for all races using the principles of Islam as the main guideline"
With his speech, Hadi has set his party on a different path compared to UMNO. He has said it clear and loud- UMNO's race centric politics is not suitable and consistent with Pas' Islamic spirit and political struggle.
Kudos for Hadi for not playing to the gallery and for having the political maturity not to try to better UMNO in the politics of race which has been a divisive force within the fragile Malaysian society.
Hadi's speech is also a direct challenge to MCA's criticism of the party's Islamic ambition. If Pas is willing to adopt and embrace pluralism, MCA will be hard pressed to convince non-Malay voters that UMNO is ready to do the same. It would be inconceivable for UMNO to make the same claim without dismantling its layers of race chauvinistic policies including the dichotomy between Bumi and Non-Bumi.
Instead of playing with racial and religious fire, MCA should have taken a cue from the Alliance shocking electoral rejection in the 1969 GE. The three-race coalition lost the popular vote but was returned as a ruling government only through devious gerrymandering which had made it virtually impossible for the Opposition to capture power without any near Herculean swing in votes of at least 65-70%. Alliance had taken an important overhaul to enlarge the coalition by being more inclusive of minority races.
MCA should have focused its effort and attention to try to persuade UMNO to ditch BN's race based model by making Barisan a truly Malaysian political party.
It would be interesting to see if its leaders are sharp enough to notice the significance of Hadi's speech on pluralism.
If MCA still continue to behave the same, it is safe to say that the party has completely lost its political instinct and is doom to ride into oblivion in the next GE.
MCA can continue to dabble in denial but it is true that Pas, despite a real threat of alienating the hardcore Malay ground, has chosen to reach out to all Malaysians and support pluralism. This makes the party's candidates more ELECTABLE than UMNO's.