Malaysia’s new multiracial Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim may have to douse the flames of PAS’s threat to “Muslims going to hell if you vote Pakatan Harapan (PH).” As the leader of PH, the ruling party now, Anwar’s top priority will be stopping the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) from inciting violence against ‘kafir harbi’ (enemies of Islam).
Malaysian Police warned against using May 13, 1969, threats of racial violence on social media and have now introduced roadblocks to enhance the security in the country.
The King’s appointment of Anwar Ibrahim as the 10th Malaysian Prime Minister is seen as the fresh wind of hope and tangible progress he brings to the nation. Anwar is finally the prime minister after spending four decades of his political career trying to get to the top office.
In his GE15 campaign, Anwar championed a multiracial and Malaysians are confident he will execute his GE15 campaign manifesto of building a united Malaysia.
PAS called on Muslim Malays to unite and fight against the Chinese (DAP) and Indians during the two-week campaign period towards GE15. In the run-up to the GE15 campaign, PAS moved away from Malaysians’ better understanding of living with differences, respect and dignity of a multiracial population. Instead, PAS focused on Muslims under 18 turned and brainwashed them using Islam to vote for Muslim leaders.
Malaysia’s vote under 18 rocked the nation and saw the swing towards Islamisation in the GE15 results, with the Islamic party, PAS, winning the most Member of Parliament (49) seats.
Nevertheless, PAS has its bag of sin after having dipped its hands in corrupt acts. Before GE14 in 2018, PAS was alleged to have received a fund related to 1MDB worth RM90 million. The fund was given because PAS had given their support to the ruling party Barisan Nasional led by former PM Najib Razak, who is currently imprisoned. This allegation has a significant impact in causing voters to reject PAS in GE14.
The situation was exacerbated when the article was republished after PAS had pulled out of the defamation suit against Sarawak Report, which alleged PAS took RM90 million related to 1MDB funds.
An astute and forthright Anwar’s GE15 campaign was one of honouring Malaysians’ differences and respect for the dignity of all races, which PAS has systematically discarded, paving the way for racial polarisation.
“Hadi and Pas have also resorted to ‘red-tagging’ in recent weeks. PAS accused DAP being communists as they are allegedly atheist and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) practices,” the Social Media Monitoring Initiative of the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), noted in its findings.
CIJ’s monitoring also found that Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA), another Islamic party, had also resorted to using the race card, emphasizing that the fate of the Malays rests with the party.
“Race-based narratives topped the chart with 32,066 posts. This was followed by religion with 13,338; comments are targeting the LGBTIQ community at 5,161; royalty at 3,968; and migrants and refugees being the lowest at 2,462. This was prevalent across the four major platforms namely, Facebook at 31,969 posts; Twitter at 18,165 posts; TikTok at 1,803 posts; and YouTube at 75 posts.”
“Out of the combined 45,404 posts on race and religion, 7,763 included posts with racist and religious slurs and vulgarism; 26 included hostile and dehumanizing language, and four were posts calling for outright attacks against non-Muslims.”
Apart from race and religion, CIJ said its interim findings also found that the other main trends around hate speech were negative stereotypes around sexual orientation and gender.
“Out of 5,161 posts on gender and those directed at the LGBTIQ community, 2,533 were posts with sexist and gender-based derogatory terms, slurs and vulgarism, and eight reached the level of being hostile and dehumanizing. There were also many sexist remarks about women. A common theme regarding gender that has run through this election cycle is the entrenched sexism, objectification and sexualization of women candidates. This has the effect of undermining women’s leadership in politics.”
However, CIJ said this project had found that such conversations on social media lead to heightened hate speech against migrant workers and refugees, including instances of doxing and incitement of violence.
“By comparison, despite the fact that only 2,246 of the overall posts monitored target the migrant and refugee communities, this category has the highest number of posts reaching the severity level of hostile and dehumanizing posts at 43l, and incitement and call for violence at four posts.”
CIJ executive director Wathshlah Naidu, said it was of utmost importance that all political factors guard against violent and extremist hate narratives that could potentially impact or influence voter decisions.
The Social Media Monitoring Initiative is CIJ’s, and the country’s, first social media monitoring during an election, monitors the severity of hate speech during the election period.
It is a partnership with the University of Nottingham Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sabah.
By M Krishnamoorthy, Adjunct professor, veteran journalist and author of Bestseller May 9: People Power Saves Malaysia.
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