Amanah to serve diverse Malaysians

Mustafa K. Anuar

Amanah president Mohamad Sabu says the party completely rejects the identity politics and divide-and-rule policies that are being pursued by the Perikatan Nasional coalition. – Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa Facebook pic, December 26, 2023.

Commentary by Mustafa K. Anuar

IN a political climate that has been polluted by toxic politics of race and religion over the years, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu’s recent policy pronouncement has come as a breath of fresh air.

In his policy speech at the launching of the party’s National Convention 2023, Mat Sabu, as he is popularly known, said Amanah completely rejects the identity politics and divide-and-rule policies that are being pursued by the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.

The emphasis on identity and polarising politics in the mainstream political arena has been counterproductive as it fosters injustice and disharmony among the diverse population.

That is why it is particularly significant that the agriculture and food security minister pointed out that his party spurns discrimination of minorities, and also their domination that is underpinned by the notion of racial supremacy.

It is concerning when discriminatory practices are normalised and have become part of a policy as citizens – irrespective of race and religion – expect to be treated equally in such vital areas of life as education, employment, and business.

Discrimination has the adverse effect of, say, denying young people from being given equal opportunity to develop their talents through educational institutions for their benefit as well as in the interest of nation-building.

Brain drain is one of the outcomes of discrimination and has become costly to the nation as a whole.

Amanah’s concern for the welfare of the minorities is well-placed, as under certain circumstances the latter faces the impact of a majority rule that may clash with its interests.

The cultural practices or lifestyle of non-Muslims may be constrained by a ruling imposed by Muslim-led authorities.

For instance, the sale of alcoholic beverages or other items considered non-halal may be restricted or disallowed in certain areas even if there are non-Muslims residing in the vicinity.

Very much in the Islamic spirit of “mercy on all creations” (rahmatan lil alamin), Amanah is ready to rightfully protect non-Muslims in the event of them being oppressed, as they can be vulnerable to certain social forces whose vested interests would infringe on their rights and interests.

Defending the minorities, which include ethnic Indians and Orang Asli, against oppression under such conditions would go a long way towards enhancing a sense of belonging among them as well as attaining justice, which is stressed and valued by Islam.

Incidentally, arch-rival PAS, a component of PN, seemed to have changed tack recently in an apparent response to Amanah’s emphasis on inclusivity. Unlike in the past, PAS has now extended Christmas greetings to Christian Malaysians, which is welcoming.

However, cynics would put this supposed PAS’ change in outlook down to the party’s frantic desire to gain non-Malay support and votes in its pursuit of political power.

While Amanah’s recently pronounced policy is commendable and may gain traction among the minorities, particularly the non-Muslims, the party would, however, have a monumental task of convincing the Malay community, many of whom have been led to believe over the years that their position and interests are always under threat.

There is a need to impress upon the Malay community the importance of having much-needed confidence when living in a multiethnic, multireligious, and multicultural society, as well as a challenging world.

Amanah will also have to face obstacles placed by politicians who have been profiting politically and materially from dividing the people.

The PAS splinter party has a lot of work to do as it is swimming against the tide of the “green wave”.

At the same time, the party will also have to address certain policies of the sitting government that may be construed as discriminatory, such as university intake, awarding of scholarships, and employment in the civil service.

Amanah has taken the vital step towards forging a moderate, just, progressive and harmonious Malaysia. It is a road worth taking. – December 26, 2023

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