KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has explained today his animosity towards opposition party PAS, amid an apparent split in Umno purportedly over the party’s attempt to get into bed with the Islamists.
According to the prime minister, the formation of PAS has inevitably broken the Malay community in two along religious lines — exacerbated by the Islamists’ tendency to label its adversaries as infidels.
“This was PAS’ behaviour that is unforgivable. Before PAS existed, the Malays were not split apart due to religion,” he wrote on his blog.
“It was only after PAS was formed that the Malays were split apart and divided into two tribes that are mortal enemies. This split has also weakened the Malays.”
Dr Mahathir said the divide within Malay-Muslims now runs very deep because of PAS, with some Muslims even attending congregational prayers in diferent mosques split across partisan lines.
“There is no religious scholar in Malaysia that is brave to say that calling non-PAS members as infidels is wrong and against Islamic teachings.
“Religious enforcers that are responsible over Islam are keeping mute about it,” he said.
In his lengthy post, Dr Mahathir said the split among Malays started after the 1955 general election, where the Alliance won 51 out of 98 federal seats, compared to one by PAS — allegedly kickstarting the latter party’s manipulation of Islam to attract Malay voters.
It was at this time that PAS claimed those who collaborated with infidels are also infidels, even when they were Sunni Muslims who followed the Shafie school of jurisprudence, he said.
This has resulted in among others, according to Dr Mahathir: Umno members’ events boycotted by PAS members, PAS and Umno members cannot marry each other, or even pray together.
Things took a turn for the worse after PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang delivered sermon in Kuala Terengganu in 1981 which had since been known as “Hadi’s Mandate”, which dubbed supporters of the Islamist party as jihadists, while those who oppose them as infidels.
Dr Mahathir said the mandate was the reason behind the Memali incident, where Ibrahim Libya and 14 of his supporters were killed after rushing and killing four police officers.
Several of PAS’ more progressive leaders has since left the party to form Parti Amanah Negara, now a component in the Pakatan Harapan ruling coalition chaired by Dr Mahathir.
The Umno leadership recently attended PAS’ annual muktamar in Terengganu, with Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reportedly announcing plans to form a new opposition coalition with the Islamist party.