By Yow Hong Chieh and Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s attempt to turn Muslims off PAS by linking it to DAP shows he has turned his back on the 1 Malaysia unity pledge for race politics, opposition leaders have said.
The prime minister alluded yesterday at a gathering of ulama, Muslim scholars and bloggers that a vote for Islamist PAS was a vote for secular, majority Chinese DAP.
His remarks came a day after MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek told Chinese voters that support for DAP will strengthen PAS, which he claimed would force its values on non-Muslims.
“Najib has definitely abandoned all pretenses for reform or transformation. It’s back to the old realpolitik of race, religion and money,” PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli told The Malaysian Insider.
He said it was “amusing” that Barisan Nasional (BN) still resorted to old divide-and-rule tactics in an age where voters have greater access to information, and suggested that the ruling coalition was in “panic mode” as elections loom.
Rafizi (picture) also stressed that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) remained firm in its commitment to a non-racial message and would “speak with one voice and language”.
“The policies implemented in the states we rule were also not designed along racial lines. Those are commitments we have delivered so far,” he said.
PAS central committee member Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said Najib’s remarks, which echoed those of Dr Chua’s, served to reinforce the racial sentiment that has put a drag on the country’s progress.
“I would say Najib’s 1 Malaysia is going down the drain. Najib is desperate and attempted to play the racial card... So it is back to race politics again for BN,” he said.
He stressed that PR, unlike BN, wished to eliminate such divisive politics, not least because a new generation of Malaysians would no longer vote along racial lines but in support of objective issues.
DAP’s Zairil Khir Johari called the prime minister a “confused man”, noting that Najib still often resorted to race politics despite desperately trying to portray himself as a moderate following BN’s unprecedented losses in Election 2008.
“Either he wakes up some days and feels like it’s 1 Malaysia (and some days not) or he’s extremely confused,” he said.
PR will not fall into the “racial trap” set by Najib, whose remarks appeared calculated to inflame the sentiments of the Malays despite BN’s avowedly multi-racial platform, he added.
Without naming either opposition party, Najib suggested yesterday that a vote for PAS was a vote for DAP, which he strongly implied would be disastrous for Muslims and Islam in Malaysia.
“Even if we vote for that faction, it is the one who sleeps in the same bed with them that will profit,” he said during his luncheon address at Himpunan Ulama, Cendekiawan Islam dan Penulis Maya here.
“The Chinese held a debate on Chinese at the crossroads. Muslims too are at a crossroads, more so since the general election is not far off. We must choose, and the one we choose must be able to guarantee the honour and purity Islam.”
The prime minister’s remarks appeared to contradict Dr Chua’s warning to the Chinese yesterday that a vote for DAP was a vote for PAS, which he claimed would establish an Islamic state should PR win federal power.
Leading Umno backbencher Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan has defended both views as “consistent”, saying the common denominator was opposition lynchpin PKR’s inability to control its partners’ excessive policies.