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Beer and DAP’s questionable allies

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Chill out, dude. You worry too much. They’ve changed. They’re Islamic moderates. If you can trust us, you can trust them. That was essentially DAP’s pitch for PAS in 2008 and 2013. And boy, do we know how that turned out.

 

These days, DAP frequently finds itself at odds with the very monster it fed. The party of self-styled secularists fumed when DBKL refused to green-light a beer festival that had faced vocal opposition from PAS. It was yet another instance of sweet, poetic justice for those of us who warned against an alliance with PAS from the start.

 

One can never tire of saying, I told you so. And while DAP and PAS are no longer on talking terms, the former continues to enable those who seem intent on clamping down on our basic freedoms.

 

Take what one opposition lawmaker said: “My opposition to the festival would be that basically it is a festival to encourage the consumption of alcohol.” She decried alcoholism as a “health hazard” that leads to liver cirrhosis and compared it to drug addiction.

 

“If every year we have this beer festival, it will only mean that more of citizens are on alcohol. Of course the beer industry will celebrate. It is about money. Would you be happy that more people are drinking at first on social basis and later there is a possibility and that it will lead to alcoholism,” she explained.

 

We should applaud such impeccable logic – perhaps we should ban food festivals to prevent obesity epidemics. But if you thought the quoted politician is a PAS official, you’d be dead wrong. In fact, she is none other than Siti Mariah Mahmud, the Amanah MP for Kota Raja, and more importantly, the head of the Islamist party’s women’s wing. Amanah, if you recall, is part of Pakatan Harapan – you know, that warm and cozy refuge of open-mindedness and tolerance.

 

Siti Mariah clearly didn’t get the memo. She was the MP who only last year called for alcohol and tobacco to be sold in separate convenience stores. Last July, her women’s wing urged for a radio ban on the popular song ‘Despacito’ due to its (allegedly) sexually provocative lyrics – RTM has since pulled the song from its stations.

 

But I suppose all that doesn’t matter. In the end, DAP would have its voters trust Amanah as they once did of PAS. We should close our eyes, pinch our noses shut, stick fingers in our ears, and ignore all the warning signs. What could go wrong?

 

The same applies to Mahathir’s Pribumi. The party is a mirror image of Umno – it’s even led by Umno veterans. So, how likely is Pribumi to move away from the race-based politics and policies that Pakatan voters so despise? Bear in mind that, even now, full membership in Pribumi is restricted to only bumiputeras and the Orang Asli.

 

Moreover, didn’t Mahathir quit Umno in 2008 only to rejoin it after his then-archenemy Abdullah Badawi left office? What’s to stop Mahathir and his party from rejoining Umno once Najib is gone?

 

But in the end, DAP would have its voters trust Pribumi as they once did of PAS. Mahathir has repented, we are told (except he hasn’t even apologized – see this Malaysiakini article). Again, what could go wrong?

 

How long before DAP leaders play victim (again), crying innocently about how they were “betrayed” by their allies? How long before Pakatan collapses (again) under the weight of ideological and political differences? Amanah’s and Pribumi’s deep illiberalism couldn’t be clearer to anyone paying attention.

 

The fact is there are no moderates in Pakatan, only zealots and opportunists. That was the case in 2008 and that’s still the case today. Accordingly, DAP isn’t so much asking for our trust than our collective and complete amnesia. We should respond by embracing an evergreen aphorism: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

 

Not again. Not this time.

 

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