A portion of Sabah citizens are rejecting the appointment of a lawmaker from Malaysia’s Islamist party by blasting on social media graphics protesting the decision.
Posters with the words “#SabahTolakPAS (Sabah Rejects PAS)” have been circulating online since yesterday, days after the newly-elected Sabah state government appointed Aliakbar Gulasan from the Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS, into the state assembly even though that party did not contest in the recent elections.
The Islamist party also has a track record of promoting extreme views, even recently calling for a blanket ban on alcohol as a means to deter drunk-driving.
“PAS is a political party. PAS is not Islam. Islam is not PAS,” texts circulated by protesters said.
“Sabahans must be on the right side of history by defending our multiculturalism, racial harmony and Native cultures. This means protesting the appointment of an extremist party into the State Assembly that has a track record of disparaging non-Muslims, oppressing Orang Asals (Indigenous communities) and pushing for fundamentalist values that do not reflect Sabah’s multiracial society,” it added.
It is not clear who started the online protest, which runs until Sunday. Nearly 20,000 people have signed the #SabahTolakPAS petition on Change.org and thousands more have tweeted their support online.
The National Alliance (PN) political coalition won the Sabah state election that was held in the middle of a pandemic last month, causing a new wave of infections to spread across Malaysia. Sabah’s new chief minister Hajiji Noor was among those who contracted the disease following the elections, and parts of Sabah also entered a two-week lockdown after new cases emerged.
PAS called for an alcohol ban in May, which could affect the culture of drinking rice wine tuak among the Kadazandusun natives, if approved. The party, led by MP Abdul Hadi Awang, also lodged a police report against Christmas celebrations in Tawau, Sabah last year.
Aliakbar is a lecturer at the University Malaysia Sabah and chairs the Malaysia Cocoa Board.
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This article, Sabah citizens reject appointment of Islamist lawmaker with week-long online protest, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.