Two events on Sunday 19th July 2015 — one that took place in Perlis and another 500 miles away in Kota Bharu — will probably go down in history as the beginning of the Malay Muslim political Renaissance.
Former PAS leaders, whom many have dubbed “progressives”, have taken a bold step towards providing an alternative political platform for Malays in the new movement called Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB). GHB is sick of corruption and abuse of power by UMNO leaders and wants to see a democratic Islamic system of governance that can exist peacefully with other religions in Malaysia. To the surprise of many, the reception GHB received in both places was beyond expectation.
I was invited by the organisers to give a short speech. It was thoughtful of them, and I started by telling them that I’d retired from party politics and had no desire to join another political party or movement.
But I also told them that I would walk the last mile with them to talk to Malaysians about why we needed to change this corrupt Government. This Government is not only corrupt but espouses racial hatred as part of its philosophy. Only such a Government can produce the likes of Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, TV3, ISMA, Utusan Malaysia (in its present form) and Pekida. If we allow this politics of hate to blossom, it will destroy Malaysia.
So, progressive Malay Muslims must be the buffer between racists — whoever they may be — and the targets of that racism (increasingly, the Chinese community). By the same token, progressive Muslims are our last hope against the hand-chopping Abdul Hadi Awang and Co. who, if they gain power, will see Malaysian Muslims forever denied basic freedoms in their own country.
To my friends Mat Sabu, Khalid Samad and others, there are thousands and thousands of Malay Muslims waiting to hear you across the land. They want something refreshing and truthful about the country and its leaders. They are sick of the present politics and they are tired of having been burdened for more than 55 years with the dilemma of choosing either a corrupt bunch of Malay leaders milking the country dry, or a bunch of ulama who do nothing but serve their own political ends.
The people want a real alternative and we must give it to them.