I’m an atheist…thank God – Comedian Dave Allen

Who knew that Malaysia’s counter-terrorism chief Normah Ishak had a dry sense of humour?

Take this statement for instance: “The recognition by an Islamic party for the Taliban’s struggle augurs well for fans of terrorism in Malaysia,” Normah was quoted as saying in a recent webinar on Afghanistan.

The counter-terrorism chief was talking about that group of people who know an awful lot about very little – the Islamic Party of Malaysia, or Pas. More specifically, she was referring to Pas’ admiration for, and recognition of, the Taliban government of Afghanistan.

The party was, apparently, banking on the Taliban to improve its Islamic image. Its head of International Affairs Abdul Khalil Hadi had tweeted his party’s congratulations to the Taliban after the hard-line group had taken over Kabul in August.

Khalil is PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s son, which reinforces the notion of the apple not falling far from the tree.

True enough, the father echoed the son’s sentiments two weeks later. In a statement published in the party’s organ Harakah on August 25, Hadi claimed that the Taliban’s leaders had “changed” and were heading in the right direction.

He also urged Muslims not to be influenced by the coverage of the Taliban by the Western media, which he described as “evil”.

Normah explained the method behind Pas’ madness. “They are creating narratives to the party’s advantage, forming opinions and perceptions among Muslims in Malaysia, so that they will think the Taliban are okay now,” Normah said.

To paraphrase her, “fans of terrorism” will undoubtedly be dancing in the aisles. People who think that the danger of terrorism in Malaysia is much exaggerated should think again.

Three years ago, I was invited to a briefing by a very senior cop to the senior management of a listed company. The briefing was about terrorism.

In the beginning, we were shown slides of training camps, young people using guns and other weapons to, essentially, learn how to kill.

Most of the camps were in the Middle East, while I supposed the last two to be camps in the Philippines or Indonesia because their backdrops were “green.”

I was half-right. The last slide, we were told, was in a camp somewhere in “the vicinity” of Kuala Kangsar that “we’ve been watching for some time.”

God bless our Special Branch: they’re ahead of the curve.

That’s why the Islamic Party’s narrative is confounding. It flies in the face of the Malaysian government’s refusal to recognise the Taliban. It’s yet another reason to kick it out of the government.

Pas is still a part of the federal government although its contributions are generally in the “Less is More” category.

It’s safe to say that Messrs Hadi and Hadi don’t read widely because they were clearly unaware of the Kandahar commander who ordered all the women employed in a bank there to go home while their jobs were filled by men whose only ideas of banking or finance were previously gleaned from the business end of a Kalashnikov.

It isn’t clear if the same order applied to all the female doctors at Kandahar General.

“I’m sorry, I’m unable to do your hernia op right now, Commander,” says Dr Ayesha as she divests herself of mask and surgical gown. “But here’s my cousin, Ali, who’s got lots of experience with sheep.”

Who says I’m kidding?

Thus far the Taliban have grimly forbidden all things Gillette, quietly encouraged opium cultivation, and continued to discriminate against women and minorities.

And this is the model Pas holds up as its exemplar?

It’s got to be kidding!



Imagine that!

CNN reported Thursday that an Australian musk-duck had been recorded saying quite clearly; “You bloody fool.” The network said it was the “first documented instance of the species mimicking human speech.”

Consider it a latter-day miracle, even some celestial advice. When ducks are given tongue, man should listen, none more so than Malaysia’s timid Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The guy is Malaysia’s 9th premier and, by all accounts, a secure one: he’s even got a cooperation agreement with the opposition, a move that vaults him into near-political impregnability.

And what does he do, this most timorous of leaders? He tries to placate everyone, to the detriment of societal mores and the rule of law.

Last week, the government proposed Ahmad Maslan, an MP from Johor and Umno’s secretary-general, as deputy speaker for Parliament.

Never mind that Mr Ahmad could always be counted on as a reliable sounding board on policy matters: he wasn’t known as Mat “Good Idea Boss” Maslan for nothing.

No, it’s the fact that he was, and remains, charged for money laundering by the country’s corruption agency and is awaiting trial.

What kind of message does Putrajaya think it sends the Malaysian people or the world at large by such appointments? That crime pays: a deputy speaker’s salary is not to be sneezed at.

It trivialises corruption at best and, at worst, it implies a foregone conclusion on his matter.

It might get worse. Singapore’s Straits Times reported that Ismail was considering appointing former premier Najib Razak as a government Economic Advisor. It was clearly a trial balloon. And as if to provide ballast to the attempt, Umno’s Nazri Aziz said it would be a waste not to do so “given his experience.”

Najib is many times removed from Ahmad Maslan. He is a criminal convicted of the world’s biggest theft and we are now asked to believe the government “needs” his advice? Are we that bankrupt of talent?

If so…

Quick! Let’s get Jho Low back to advise the central bank how to plug money laundering holes in the banking system.

Whatever happened to shame as a concept?

And while Ismail’s insecurity is displayed for the world to see, former diplomat Dennis Ignatius warns that the country is sliding faster into Islamic-type statehood than anyone realises. This is, of course, due to Pas’ current control of the federal religious agencies like Jakim.

Pas should give thanks to the former PH government. It could never dream of making it into the federal government on its own. But by preying on Malay fears of losing political dominance – aided and abetted by the ever-reliable Dr M – it’s managed to sneak into the Malay coalition now governing Malaysia.

Never mind it’s a weak party with far less popular support than, say, the DAP or PKR, it still controls the most influential lever over the country’s majority people – Islam. Indirectly, that translates into enormous influence over the whole country – unless there is check and balance.

That’s why Pas is the most committed to ensure the permanence of the three-party Malay coalition now in power. It’s never had it so good.

If history is any judge, everyone should worry about this trend going forward.
Because the Islamic Party of Malaysia, or Pas, has never made any secret of its over-arching ambition for Malaysia.



A fanatic is a man that does what he thinks the Lord would do if He knew the facts of the case.” Finlay Donne, 19th century American writer

Finally, a leader from the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) who makes sense.

No, it isn’t an oxymoron. You heard right. Nur Jazlan Mohamad, the party’s deputy head in Johor, has called for Umno to reconsider its ties with Islamist party Pas, in a pact first proposed in 2019. The pact was proposed after the then ruling BN coalition lost the 2018 general election to the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition. An Umno-Pas coalition was then proposed as a sure-fire winning formula.

Now the cracks are showing. “Umno has always been suspicious of PAS leaders as they now seem to be more interested in power and position and, in some cases, money, too. And in the current episode involving the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB), there are some serious allegations,” said Mr Nur.

The latest episode involves the planned sale of prime property belonging to cash-rich MRB, currently under the jurisdiction of PAS minister Khairuddin Aman Razali. The board’s former chairman Umno MP Ahmad Nazlan Idris alleged recently that Mr Khairuddin was attempting to influence the sale’s outcome.

Pointing at the episode., Mr Nur said PAS was likely to be a liability in the next general election if the parties cooperated.

Be that as it may, the matter is now under investigation. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has reportedly called up Mr Nazlan for a statement in connection with the MRB allegations.

That is as it should be.

But back to Pas. All those who think they’re squarely to the right of Attila, raise your hands. Just ask yourself: what have they done for this country in terms of direction: in terms of sound policy, in terms of adding to the gross national good?

The party has ruled Kelantan for over three decades and what have they got to show for it? It’s a state with a lower life expectancy than other states, except Terengganu (ruled by Pas, unsurprisingly). It also reports the highest number of AIDS cases in the country and has the dubious distinction of being the most dirty.

Moreover, they assert claims that are downright stupid. Last year, Mr Khairuddin – the same MRB chap – led a three day mission to Turkey to drum up foreign investment. In his words it was very “successful.”

How successful? In the words of another bona fide rocket scientist, Abdul Azzez, the MP from Baling, it was so successful, it brought in RM82 billion in FDI!

What’s wrong with these people? They can’t even lie convincingly. Turkey isn’t doing very well at all. Its lira is half the value of the ringgit and the total amount of FDI Turkey got for the whole of 2019 was a paltry RM32 odd billion. Meanwhile, Mr Azeez is awaiting trial on corruption charges himself. #Justsaying.

From my observations of Pas over 30 years of journalism, a few consistent themes have emerged.

One is an obsessive preoccupation with the attire of Mas stewardesses. Indeed, it appears behavioural, frequently manifesting in distasteful parliamentary questions that demean women and insult the intelligence of male listeners.

Others include frowning upon anything that might, in moderation, improve the quality of the human spirit, to wit, wine, beer or tuak.

Finally, there is Pas’ long- standing desire to impose sharia law over the country, the better that we rapidly harken back to a medieval future.

But, why, oh why, don’t they denounce corruption? Better still, issue a fatwa against it.