Malaysia sets new world record for sedition

February 20, 2015

Malaysia sets new world record for sedition

by Dr. Lim Teck

SATIRE Malaysian authorities at a special press conference yesterday announced they were submitting to the Guinness Book of World Records for initiating the most number of seditious cases in the world on a per capita basis.

The authorities also informed media representatives that, besides the per capita record, Malaysia was also going for the record for the most number of categories in which sedition charges could be leveled.

Although constitutional and legal constraints stood in the way of extending the country’s record, its leading legal official was confident that it can easily be overcome. His confidence came from two sources. Firstly, the Prime Minister’s Department is adding 20,000 special officers to the present squad of ‘sedition busters’. These officers will be recruited to work in universities, religious establishments and other prominent fertile breeding grounds for sedition.

He himself will also personally take part in a road show throughout the country to share the sordid details of how a new generation of seditionists is plotting to destroy the moral, religious, and socio-political fabric of the country.

Record outburst

According to the national news agency, McJibby – surreptitiously and seditiously referred to by the opposition as McJibberish – the announcement has prompted an outburst of pride and patriotism from the Malaysian public.

The agency noted that one response which has gone viral has argued that the new categories of sedition such as ‘disloyalty to the ruling party'; ‘making fun of the Prime Minister and his associates’, ‘harboring oppositional sentiments’, ‘subjecting the handbag to be an object of ridicule’ would restore our esteemed standing in the ASEAN region.

Referring to a neighbouring country where the conventional charge of ‘insulting king and country’ has figured prominently in the international media, the Tweeter chortled, “It’s sweet revenge for all the times you have beaten us in sepak takraw; take that T……d”

Among those congratulating our authorities was the former Prime Minister whose role in establishing the solid foundations of authoritarism in the country has been widely acknowledged. ‘Bapa Sedition’, typically though, warned the country’s present leaders not to be over-complacent in this key issue. “Numbers do not count; the important thing is results. Make sure that the charges stick,” he emphasised.

Support for the record-setting achievement has also come from the private sector.  A spokesperson from a prominent public relations firm has announced that the firm will be placing advertisements in the print media on the new record as soon as it is certified by the Guinness authorities.

Authoritarian role model

A leading Malaysian IT company has also disclosed that it has been involved in a hush-hush joint venture with 1MCB to invest in new technology aimed at retrieving and decoding hand phone messages – currently a popular channel for seditious content.

“The market for this technology is enormous and Malaysia can be the game changer as well as role model for authoritarian governments all over the world”, the spokesperson claimed.

The chairperson of the Malaysian Chamber of Big Business (MCBB) has applauded the Government’s achievement and termed it “painful but necessary”.

It expected the country’s GDP growth to shoot up once the record was verified. It also noted that there were hundreds of billions of ringgit sitting in bank accounts overseas waiting to come back to the country should the anti-sedition drive succeed.

There have been two dissenting voices so far. The pro-sedition NGO, PerKasar, said that the crackdown by authorities did not go far enough. It noted that  “[Human] rights, liberty and justice” are dirty words imported from the West.

“The Federal Constitution is the most dangerous pro-sedition document. We have to throw it out and start our history all over again”.   Meanwhile, religious columnist R Irwan Kopi has criticised the move to apply to the Guinness authorities for the record achievement.

Noting that Guinness is associated with a sinful drink, he urged instead the incorporation of the record into the government’s latest weapon of conformist behaviour, the Syariah Index.

He has also proposed some new categories for behaviour that can be categorised as “seditious”. “What about clothing behaviour? Display by women of their bodies is the most under-rated seditious activity in any wannabe Islamic country”.

DR LIM TECK GHEE is former World Bank senior social scientist, whose report on bumiputera equity when he was Director of ASLI’s Centre for Public Policy Studies sparked controversy in 2006. He is now CEO of the Centre for Policy Initiatives.



Good Ideas but bad policies on Education

February 17, 2015

Good Ideas but bad policies on Education

Ambitious education policies don’t work because they are premature given the current inadequacies of the system.

COMMENT by Wan Salman Wan Sallam

Although he is actively critical of the Najib Administration, Tun Dr4th PM of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad seems to be still in possession of his sense of humour. He quipped recently that he’d want to be Prime Minister again if he had the chance. He said one of the things he would do would be to bring back the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI).

PPSMI is one of the many things he gave the nation during his tenure as Prime Minister. It was intended as a means of globalising students at an early stage. But things didn’t turn out as nicely as they should. It did not, for instance, succeed in narrowing the gap of educational opportunities between the urban and rural populace.

The problem of availability of extra materials and classes to reinforce learning has always been more severe in the rural areas. To worsen the situation, English language education has always been less effective in the rural areas. It is an open secret that in schools with large majorities of Malay and Bumiputera students, English teachers speak more Malay than English during lessons, perhaps thinking that this would help the students better understand the lessons. This happens even in secondary schools.

The students therefore do not have enough opportunities to communicate in the language, let alone enhance their skills. At the end of the day, they essentially don’t learn much. They experience problems not only with English, but also with understanding the basics of Mathematics and the Sciences. Thus the urban-rural gap is widened even further, and we can conclude that Mahathir’s policy was premature and problematic. It was premature because it was implemented without the conditions being ready for it.

After Mahathir retired, PPSMI was abolished and Science and Maths are now taught in Malay again. A problem may have got solved, but another one arises.

A step forward

In 2014, the Ministry of Education introduced a more thorough implementation of the School-based Assessment System (PBS). Formerly, it was implemented mainly in the form of oral tests for language subjects.

DPM of MalaysiaIt is good that we have finally found a way out of an extremely exam-oriented system and made a step forward. But yet again, the implementation was premature, with the pre-conditions not satisfied beforehand.

The enhanced PBS makes it necessary for teachers to keep updating students’ achievements in the system, adding yet another burden to their teaching duties.

Generally, we can assume that a classroom has about 40 students. Unlike a university lecturer, a school teacher must get to know his students individually and constantly give them personal support. Now that they are burdened with greater workloads, their chances of nurturing the pupils through the personal touch are reduced.

It has been reported that nearly 30% of schools in Malaysia are categorised as “schools with very small numbers of students”. One would think that the PBS system would work better in these schools. But no, 90% of these schools are poorly funded. Some of them even operate in other schools’ buildings and use their facilities. These schools, due to having few students, practice multi-grade teaching. As far as we can see from the environment of these schools, this is not a conducive condition for the implementation of PBS.

If that isn’t bad enough, the PBS management system (SPPBS) adds to our compilation of the worst things about PBS. With the system continually lagging if not hanging, we have another huge burden to add to the tons of workload already piled upon the shoulders of teachers.

Furthermore, the Internet speed also argues against the implementation of the online system. According to an Asean report, Malaysia’s average Internet speed is only around 5.5 Mbps, far from the global average of 17.7 Mbps, let alone Singapore’s 61 Mbps. Even Vietnam beats us.

With the implementation of PBS, both teachers and students are expected to make use of information and communication technology (ICT). But from a study done in a rural secondary school by a team from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, almost 80% of the students don’t have computers at home and more than 50% of them are not competent enough to use them. In fact, 70% of them get to use a computer for only about an hour a day. A good 42.9% don’t know how to use Microsoft Word and 60% aren’t familiar with e-mail.

PBS is, after all is said and done, another premature education policy. So if Mahathir wants to be PM again or if anyone else has the ambition to take over from Najib Abdul Razak, I’d ask him to please make sure that education policies are made to be compatible with current conditions. What is the point of an education policy if it benefits only a certain group of people, and a small one at that?

Wan Salman Wan Sallam is an FMT reader

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third-party content provider.

The “Poor Malays” are Victims of UMNO Baru

February 15, 2015

The Poor Malays are Victims of UMNO Baru

by Ahmad Mustapha Hassan

QUICK TAKE: The former US Ambassador to Malaysia John RJohn R. Malott2 Malott wrote an interesting article about Martin Luther King and the poor Malays. There are many points that he had raised which really knock the nail on the head.

He used the term “useful idiots” the term that Lenin had coined to describe certain sections of the community. In other words, this group is no more than a group that had been used by the group in power in order to maintain that power.

He was describing about the rich whites in the US making use of the poor whites to maintain their economic status. He equated these whites as being like UMNO Baru in Malaysia. UMNO Baru had been using the poor Malays as its tool to retain power. It had used the mantra that these poor Malays need UMNO Baru to protect them.

But the poor Malays had remained poor even under over half a century of UMNO Baru’s protection. Just like the rich whites in the US putting the blame on the blacks and others for the bleak condition of the poor whites, UMNO Baru had also utilized this tactic to trick the poor Malays. Its leaders started blaming the non-Malays for the predicament suffered by these poor Malays.

It is indeed interesting to note that the rich and the powerful all over in the capitalist world use the very same method to deceive the people. This hapless group will again elect the very same people who had betrayed them into power and position. Hence. Lenin had termed these people as “useful idiots”.

Malott quoted what King had said in his speech on the steps of the State Capitol Building:

“How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.

 “How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow.

“How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

How long then will this deceit of the poor Malays go on? From the look of it this will not be very long. A new generation that had managed to free themselves from this mental block had already emerged. The number of these “poor Malays” who have become “useful idiots” to UMNO and UMNO Baru is reducing itself. But to maintain the status quo, gangsters and agent provocateurs are being used.

NGOs consisting of those who had been trapped by ethnic and religious distortions had been given all the leeway by the government to act as they please to create tension thus frightening whatever poor Malays still left to forever seek the so called protection of UMNO Baru.

Anwar will never surrenderHis politically motivated imprisonment will galvanise the Poor Malays

But there are other factors that will destroy the faith of the remaining poor Malays. One of the main factors will be the injustice meted out to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. His imprisonment on a case which is touted as being politically motivated will cause UMNO Baru to lose this “useful idiots” group as its election asset.

Nurul Nuha Anwar sets the stage for Family Politics in PKR

February 15, 2015

Nurul Nuha Anwar sets the stage for Family Politics in PKR

by Jocelyn

Nurul NuhaIT was a rather teary debut for Nurul Nuha Anwar, the second-born of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s six children.

The slender and attractive 31-year-old broke down barely minutes into the press conference, her voice shaking with emotion and her cheeks wet with tears as she read from a prepared script. Her big sister Nurul Izzah was clearly in charge as she draped a protective arm over her sister while the rest of the siblings looked on silently.

The children have stepped up to the plate to take charge of the March to Freedom campaign that is aimed at garnering national and international support for their imprisoned father. It is not unlike the “Free Anwar Campaign” during the first sodomy case.

Their mother, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, was not present and the children said they wanted to share her burden and responsibility.

Despite struggling with her composure, Nurul Nuha is said to be the most spunky and politically-astute among the Anwar brood.

Nurul Nuha is the daughter who most resembles her mother in terms of looks. Many would remember her as the skinny adolescent who, shortly after Anwar’s black-eye incident in 1998, thrust her body from the window of a moving car and shouted out “reformasi!” to the crowds. It was one of those riveting moments in politics.

The young gawky girl with cropped hair and spectacles has grown up and is now a mother of two.

The Anwar clan is very tight-knit but Nurul Nuha has often stood out for her fierce belief in her father. At the start of the second sodomy trial, she had leapt to her feet when she saw Saiful Bukhary Azlan in court and shouted at him. Family members had to quickly calm her down.

Some PKR politicians insisted that having the family take charge of the March to Freedom campaign was to give it a less partisan dimension. They said a “family affair” would encourage participation from NGOs and individuals who might otherwise be put off if it was done by a political party.

But many saw Wednesday’s press conference also as a move to project Nurul Nuha as a possible candidate for the impending by-election in Permatang Pauh.

“She is a quick thinker and has good people skills. I saw how well she got along with people, old and young, when she used to accompany her mother to Permatang Pauh,” said Faekah Husin, the former political secretary to Dr Wan Azizah.

Another Anwar family name is about to enter the fray. The political dynasty is about to become more entrenched, and not everyone in PKR is too comfortable about that.

Nurul Nuha’s name was proposed as a candidate in Penang in the general election but Anwar had shot it down. But her turn may have come.

It is going to be quite awkward for the party, especially for those whoPelukan terakhir Anwar feel that PKR must wean itself from the dominance of Istana Segambut, as the powerful Anwar family is known among party members.

The party is still smarting over the starring role of the husband-and-wife pair in the party election last year. This carried into the Kajang by-election and the Selangor Mentri Besar crisis. It was way too much family politics, and it had turned the party into some sort of laughing stock.

But few would dare to object to another family member in Permatang Pauh even if they think it smacks of nepotism. The seat is synonymous to Anwar and it would seem callous for anyone to insist that it goes to a non-family member, even in the name of democratic politics.

Those arguing for a non-family candidate said the seat is symbolic of Pakatan Rakyat’s strength and that someone who is measurable to public expectations would be more suitable.

“Anwar claims that his cause is that of justice and democracy for Malaysia. If that is the case, it should not preclude others. There is no need to go down the family line,” said a Pakatan politician from Penang. Actually, a number of other people are eyeing the sure-win seat.

A day after the Anwar verdict, a well-meaning PKR politician had called Dr Wan Azizah to offer words of comfort and also to suggest that she consider PAS Deputy President Mohamad Sabu for Permatang Pauh.

The caller said it would allow Mat Sabu a platform to go for the Presidency and if he wins, he can ensure that PAS stays with Pakatan. Giving the seat to a PAS man is out of the question but there was no harm trying.

There are equally eager candidates within PKR, and one of them isDato Saifuddin Nasution former Secretary-General Datuk Saifuddin Nasution whose career is now in limbo after losing badly in the PKR election.

Saifuddin had complained during a party meeting that he felt like he had been abandoned. He indicated that he was struggling to cope with a lawsuit brought against him by Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. Saifuddin had made corruption allegations against the former Selangor Mentri Besar at the height of the Mentri Besar crisis and he has been sued for that.

Yusmadi YusoffBeing an MP would help him return from the cold and restore his political career.Another name that has cropped up is that of Yusmadi Yusoff, a lawyer and former Balik Pulau MP.

Like Saifuddin, Yusmadi is also looking to make a comeback and what better opportunity than via a high-profile by-election.

But this is no ordinary by-election and some of the above names are rather too garden variety to excite the electorate. Moreover, there are already suggestions of a watikah or authorisation from Anwar about the seat and, like it or not, he will have a big say from prison.

Some in the party have even suggested Dr Wan Azizah for the seat.Kak Wan, as she is known, stepped in and won the seat in 1999 after Anwar’s sacking. In 2009, she resigned to pave a by-election for Anwar to return to politics. Then she made her own return to politics in the Kajang by-election last year.

It was starting to look like a revolving door, the way the family went in and out as they liked but they do seem to get away with it. As such, Kak Wan’s candidature should not be discounted.

PKR’s first lady may become even more powerful now that she is the chief conduit between the party and her imprisoned husband.

The focus on PKR was interrupted by the death of PAS leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat on Thursday night. It was the passing of a legend and the by-election in Chempaka is likely to happen sooner than in Permatang Pauh.

The Permatang Pauh seat will only be declared vacant 14 days from the date of conviction if Anwar fails to get a royal pardon. To date, there is no sign that he is seeking a royal pardon.

Pakatan leaders welcome the breathing space because they need to get their act together, patch up some of the cracks and agree on a suitable candidate.

Anwar was an important figure in Penang because he was the Malay face to the otherwise Chinese-centric government. But there will never be another Anwar and they may have to settle for his daughter.

Pakatan leaders want nothing less than a landslide victory in the by-election. This is crucial to show that the people are still with Anwar and to validate Pakatan’s standing as a coalition.

The last seven by-elections have not been encouraging for Pakatan. The coalition lost Teluk Intan and it retained the seats where it was the incumbent by smaller majorities. In contrast, Barisan won with bigger majorities in the seats where it was the incumbent.

The signs of voter disenchantment are there. Pakatan needs to restore its image with a big win in Permatang Pauh.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.


The Legacy of PAS’ Spiritual Leader Nik Aziz–ANALYSIS

February 13, 2015


The Passing of Nik Aziz Nik Mat: The Legacy of PAS’ Spiritual Leader-ANALYSIS

The passing of Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the late Spiritual Leader of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS, has left an enormous void in the party and the political landscape of Malaysia. Though his religious educational background was traditional and conservative, he was one of the more pragmatic and realistic leaders of the party, who transformed PAS into what it is today.

By Farish A. Noor*

nik-aziz2TUAN GURU Nik Aziz Nik Mat was one of the most well-known and familiar political-religious leaders in Malaysia, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that he was known throughout the country.

His popularity began to rise from the 1980s when he, along with a number of religious scholars (Ulama) took over the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS after deposing its leader Asri Muda. Thus began the rise of the ‘Ulama faction’ and the re-orientation of the party in the direction of political Islam in step with the global emergence of Islamism from the 1980s to the late 1990s.

In Malaysia today he was also known as the Murshid’ul Am or Spiritual Leader of PAS and the one who was most supportive of the reformist-modernist wing within the party, sometimes referred to as the ‘Erdogan faction’. The question arises as to how and why a traditional and conservative religious scholar such as Nik Aziz could have lent his support to the party’s moderate-reformist wing, who in turn brought the party into the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance) coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim. To understand the rationale behind Nik Aziz’s thinking, it is important to revisit the man’s past and consider his early religious education abroad, and his experiences in Malaysia and overseas.

Product of madrasah education

Nik Aziz ( pic center) first attended madrasahs (religious schools) in Malaysia, but Young Nik Azizwas then sent to India to further his studies. In India, he studied at the Darul Uloom madrasah of Deoband, Uttar Pradesh and it was there that he was first exposed to currents of religio-political thought in the Indian subcontinent. After graduating from Deoband in 1957, he proceeded to Lahore, Pakistan where he studied Tafsir (Quranic exegesis), and then to Egypt where he studied Fiqh (religious jurisprudence) at the well-known al-Azhar university in Cairo.

It has to be noted that in India, Pakistan and Egypt Nik Aziz did not merely study religious subjects but was also exposed to the currents of political Islam of the time: The 1950s and 1960s were the decades where political Islam was on the rise, with prominent Muslim scholar-activists such as Syed Abul Alaa Maudoodi, Sayyid Qutb and Hassan al-Banna becoming better known. In the course of several interviews that I had conducted with him, Nik Aziz admitted that he was less inclined towards the more poetic and/or spiritual variants of Islam that were found in India: On one occasion he was invited to perform a religious missionary tour with the spiritually-inclined Tablighi Jama’at movement in India, but declined on the grounds that he found their practice of Islam ‘world-denying and life-negating’.

Nik Aziz also spoke fondly of his time in Egypt, where he professed an admiration for the nationalist project of Gamal Abdel Nasser who had tried to modernise the country and who was seen as one of the leaders of the Pan-Arab nationalist movement. It was during this period – until his return to Malaysia in 1962 – that Nik Aziz developed his own approach to political Islam.

Alliance of Islamists and professionals

Nik Aziz’s educational background was traditional and conservative, and in many of the religious schools he studied, the teaching was based on the standard Dars-I Nizami curriculum that was introduced in the 11th century. Yet notwithstanding his conservative leanings, his personal experience of living in India, Pakistan and Egypt in the 1950s and early 1960s exposed him to contemporary currents of Muslim activism that later inspired and shaped his own political approach.

After taking over the Islamist party PAS in 1982, he, along with other Islamist-activist leaders like Yusof Rawa, began the internal transformation of the party and actively courted the membership and support of young Muslim professionals and technocrats into PAS.

It was from the 1980s that PAS became a truly modern organisation with strong mobilisation and communications capabilities, as a result of the alliance between the Ulama and professionals that Nik Aziz and Yusof Rawa promoted. Nik Aziz understood the need for a new kind of leadership and membership for the party that would allow it to mobilise faster and respond better to both domestic and international challenges.

The younger generation of professionals on the other hand valued the religious knowledge and moral credibility of men like Nik Aziz as they rejected the capital-driven developmental model they saw in Malaysia and other parts of the post-colonial world.

Nik Aziz’s passing thus leaves behind an enormous void in the leadership of PAS, and raises questions about where the party might head in the near future. But in recounting his personal history, it is instructive to note that even conservative-traditionalist scholars like him were able to appreciate the importance of networks and pragmatic coalitions as part of political praxis.

*Farish A. Noor is Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University and author of The Malaysian Islamic Party PAS 1951-2013, Amsterdam University Press, 2014.

RSIS Commentaries are intended to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy relevant background and analysis of contemporary developments. The views of the author/s are their own and do not represent the official position of the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), NTU, which produces the Commentaries.

The Attraction-Revulsion Syndrome of Nik Aziz

February 13, 2015

The Attraction-Revulsion Syndrome of Nik Aziz

by Terence

COMMENT: During much of his 23-year tenure as Kelantan Menteri Besar, the late Nik Aziz Nik Mat exerted a simultaneous attraction-repulsion spell on non-Muslims: they found attractive the purity of his religious belief but were discomfited by aspects of its literalism.

Nik Aziz Nik Mat

Non-Muslims struggled to come to terms with the polarities of a persona they found engaging at most times and estranging at others. Prior to Niz Aziz’s emergence as a national political figure in the 1990s there was virtually no leader of the Islamist party with appeal across sectarian lines.

Burhanudin al-Helmy, President of the party from the mid-1950s to his death in 1967, did appeal to non-Muslims but that was because he had been associated with the multi-racial left wing cohort of the nationalist movement before and after the Second World War.

Hassan Adli, a PAS leader in Perak and near the top tier of his party’s hierarchy in the 1960s, was manifestly appealing to non-Muslims but did not endure long in the game, having met with an untimely death.

Ustaz Fadzil Noor

Not until Fadzil Noor (PAS President 1989-2002, above) who took over from Yusof Rawa had a PAS bigwig been able to breach the Muslim/non-Muslim divide and that, too, because Fadzil allowed his affection for a physically abused and humiliated Anwar Ibrahim in 1998 to prompt him to head Gerak, the multi-denominational NGO formed to protest the abuse of human rights mirrored in the sacked Deputy Prime Minister’s appalling treatment.

After Fadzil blazed the path, Nik Aziz steadily assumed centre stage as the PAS leader in possession of a magnetism that drew even non-Muslims into its orbit. The exemplary simplicity of his lifestyle as Menteri Besar (1990-2013) and resolute indifference to the material trappings of power shone like a beacon at a time when lengthy tenures in the upper tier of our political power pyramid invariably meant the occupant waxed with wealth.

That Nik Aziz was not materially acquisitive in an age rife with leaders grown florid on the perquisites of power was more than a display of spartan simplicity; it sustained the ideal of incorruptible governance at a time when power was synonymous with wealth.

Pause to evaluate Najib Abdul Razak’s reference to “family inheritance” as explanation to a query by the New York Times on the Prime Minister’s wealth.

From that standpoint, Pakatan was glad to have in Nik Aziz an indisputable exemplar of probity and morality. Pakatan supporters hailed Nik Aziz’s resolute opposition to a section of his party’s desire for a ‘unity government’ with UMNO in the aftermath of ruling party’s loss of its two-third majority in Parliament in the seminal March 2008 general election.

That opposition put paid to hopes of a unity government and allowed Malaysians the space to observe what a DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government under Lim Guan Eng could do in Penang, the kinetic, albeit short span of a PAS-led government under Nizar Jamaluddin in Perak, and the financially well-managed tenure of Khalid Ibrahim in a PKR-led Pakatan administration in Selangor.

Breaching a psychological barrier

By thwarting the unity move, Nik Aziz allowed space and time for Pakatan to breach a psychological barrier among Malaysian voters – that the opposition in Malaysia are doomed to be backbenchers and not governors.

That and the panache of his visit to Penang during Thaipusam in early 2013 in the midst of public foreboding and tension caused by PERKASA Chief Ibrahim Ali’s threat to burn Malay language Bibles over the use of the ‘Allah’ term raised Nik Aziz to the pantheon of national leaders intent on transcending divisions than solidifying them.

The not so elevating aspects of Nik Aziz’s  persona was his scriptural literalness that saw him dismiss the Muslim organiser and participants of a dog show as people with “worms in their heads”.

Ailing for several years, his death yesterday comes at time when Pakatan is without its most recognisable leader, Anwar Ibrahim, now serving out a tendentious jail term, and just when PAS is intent on introducing the Islamic penal code (hudud), in Kelantan, which Nik Aziz would have ardently supported, to the dismay of his non-Muslim admirers.

This attraction-aversion syndrome which characterised the Nik Aziz phenomenon is set to define PAS politics in the foreseeable future awhile skewering the Pakatan position to the point of incoherence.

It’s enough to drive one to distraction until you consider what the alternative is – interminable rule by an UMNO-BN so decayed that the rising clamour to replace Najib as Prime Minster instantaneously elicits the expression “By whom?”