MALAYSIA: The hardline Islamist party PAS has drawn attention for its decision to bar Dominic Lau, the president of its coalition partner Gerakan, from participating in an event organized by PAS.
Following the surface of the video showing Lau being told “go away” by the Penang state PAS secretary, politicians have questioned the inclusivity of the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, where Gerakan and PAS are its component parties.
Syerleena Abdul Rashid, a Democratic Action Party (DAP) member of parliament (MP), said PAS’ treatment of Lau raised “serious concerns about the party’s political stance and credibility”.
“Despite presenting themselves as an inclusive party willing to work in a coalition, their recent actions reveal a significant discrepancy between their stated values and actual practices,” said the Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera.
On Tuesday (1 Aug), reports emerged that Lau was requested to leave a PN ceramah (talk) in Sungai Dua, Butterworth, Seberang Perai, Penang, as he had attended without an invitation.
Lau, whose candidacy in Bayan Lepas had apparently unsettled PAS supporters in the Malay-majority constituency, refuted the claim, asserting its falsehood.
Lau offered clarification, explaining that his purpose for attending the ceramah was to meet with PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang.
Hadi had directed him to be present at 9 pm, shortly before the event. However, Hadi’s arrival was delayed until 10.30 pm.
“I was there to meet him but as the event ran late, I could not speak to him and I had to leave for a meeting,” Lau said.
Nevertheless, a video from Malaysiakini captured an incident where Lau was prevented by a Penang PAS leader from joining the party’s vice-president, Idris Ahmad, on the stage.
The PAS leader could be heard instructing Lau, “Tak boleh (No you can’t). You go away.”
Syerleena pondered about PAS’ potential treatment of the general public, considering its conduct towards its allies, particularly the leader of Gerakan.
“It also casts a shadow over PAS’ reliability and trustworthiness.”
Meanwhile, Azrul Mahathir Aziz, the Vice-Chairman of Penang Amanah under Pakatan Harapan coalition, has characterized the “go away” video as a calculated move by Lau aimed at garnering sympathy votes.
On Tuesday (2 Aug), Abdul Hadi Awang reassured non-Malay communities, particularly those in Penang, that PAS would not marginalize them if successful in the upcoming state elections on the 12th of August.
“It is only an act for Dominic to get sympathy votes from non-Malays while on the other hand, PAS wanted to appease its grassroots support base by showing that they are still ‘angry’ with Dominic for contesting in a traditionally PAS seat.”
He further explained that this tactic serves as an effort to regain backing. PAS aims to convey its disagreement with Lau’s candidacy and create a distinction from his decision.
Azrul emphasized that there exists a segment of Malay PAS supporters who remain dissatisfied with the party’s decision to allocate the seat to Gerakan. Consequently, a strategic performance was required to placate this group.
Given that a significant proportion of non-Malay constituents in the area are staunch supporters of Pakatan Harapan (PH), Azrul speculated that Lau might be leveraging the sympathy card to attract their support.