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PAS should reveal its tolerant side to appeal to non-Muslim voters

Publish date: Wed, 29 Nov 2023, 03:36 PM

IT WOULD appear that the fallout from the ‘sexy’ Bachok concert is a possible ban on future events which has greatly saddened the Buddhist community in Kelantan.

To recap, mainstream and social media was abuzz when videos of featuring female dancers in body-hugging outfits performing at a closed-door event at Wat Pathumviharn in Bachok went viral.

The Nov 25 concert was in conjunction with the Loy Krathong or Siamese festival to pay respect to the Goddess of Water and the Buddha.

Critics of PAS and netizens had a field day pointing out the double standards of PAS in demanding that concerts by foreign artistes be banned in other states yet this was happening in their own backyard in Kelantan.

Following this development, Wat Pathumviharn chief priest Phor Than Plen has posted an impassioned plea on X (formerly Twitter): “We hope all quarters will not muddy the waters which have been clear for so long. When the water becomes muddied, nobody can see anything. There is nothing to be achieved.”

Phor further disclosed that the Loy Krathong festival has been peacefully celebrated for the past 29 years at the temple without incident and that the concerts were an integral part of the festival.

He also echoed the sentiments of many netizens from the Buddhist community in Kelantan who said they were grateful to the state authorities in allowing this event to proceed with minimum fuss over the years.

Given PAS’ pretensions in taking Putrajaya, shouldn’t the Islamist party consider appealing to non-Muslim voters by showing its more tolerant and understanding side?

Non-Muslim voters have been spooked by the ‘Green Wave’ and the perceived Islamisation agenda of PAS supremo Tan Sri Hadi Awang and his cohorts of hardliners. Perhaps Hadi should take a leaf out of his predecessor, the late Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat who preached a message of acceptance and tolerance that greatly appealed to non-Muslims.

This was evident not just in Kelantan but when PAS won great number of seats during the 13th General Election (GE13) in mixed-population urban areas when it was part of the Pakatan Rakyat bloc.

PAS consistently hardline stance since joining the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition has seen it alienate not just non-Muslim voters but also moderate Muslims as seen by the numerous comments on social media.

The Bachok Buddhist festival is a great example of the state authority’s ‘live and let live’ ethos when it comes to dealing with minorities. There is respect and understanding - values which are sorely missing when its MPs open their mouths in parliament.

In light of its recent PR (public relations) fiascos involving the likes of Siti Mastura and UK scholar Aisyah which has made PAS look ridiculous in the case of the former and out-of-touch in the latter, the PAS PR machine should take a look at this episode and perhaps re-consider its hardliner stance.

This may be wishful thinking but if PAS really do want to capture Putrajaya, it will need the support of non-Muslim voters. Being seen as a party with far-right ideals will do little to attract that support. - Nov 29, 2023

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