KUALA LUMPUR - Fundamentalist Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang was criticised on Monday over his remarks that appeared to question Malaysia’s monarchy over its role in the formation of the new government led by Pakatan Harapan (PH).
Amid global World Cup fever, Tan Sri Hadi posted a cryptic tweet on Sunday about a football referee providing “extra time for the losing side” after the match was over, allowing the losers to “win by any means”.
His remarks were widely interpreted as referring to how the new government was formed last week, following Malaysia’s inconclusive general election on Nov 19.
Former premier Muhyiddin Yassin from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Mr Hadi are the two top leaders of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.
PN was forced into the opposition benches after the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, as arbiter in the hung Parliament, appointed PH chief Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister last Thursday.
Mr Hadi said in the tweet: “Even though the results have a win for one side, there are points and goals, suddenly the referee adds (injury) time to give a chance to those who have clearly lost so that they can win with whatever means…
“What would the spectators watching it live or through broadcasts say? Islam mandates that its followers act fairly in all matters, from being in a family to a society or country in all matters, including in sports.”
Terengganu PH chief Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah said Mr Hadi’s post was “a serious and insolent accusation” and urged the police to investigate him for sedition.
Making insulting statements and mocking the monarchy are offences under the Sedition Act.
“His sarcasm has been criticised by many netizens who understood the post to be referring to the setting up of the unity government led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who was appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) with the approval of the Conference of Malay Rulers,” said Datuk Raja Kamarul in a statement.
The PAS leader’s writings “are openly treasonous, accusing the palace of not acting fairly and going against or defying the laws” and challenging the actions of the palace, he added.
PH won 82 seats in the general election while PN won 73.
PN said last Monday, two days after the general election, that it had 114 MPs backing it and was planning to submit its list to Sultan Abdullah to claim majority support, before a deadline set by the national palace that day.
But following a request from PH and Barisan Nasional (BN), the King extended the deadline to last Tuesday, which indicated that Mr Anwar did not then have the minimum 112 MPs to secure control of the 222-strong Parliament.
PN went ahead and submitted its list last Monday. The King met Mr Anwar and Mr Muhyiddin last Wednesday and asked them to form a unity government.
But Mr Muhyiddin, who at that time said he had enough MPs to form a government on his own, rejected Sultan Abdullah’s proposal.
Leaders of BN, which holds 30 seats and thus became kingmakers, met several times between last Sunday and last Tuesday to decide who they should support. BN said late last Tuesday that it would not support PN, although about 10 BN MPs had backed PN a few days earlier. BN said it would stay in the opposition and not back either premiership candidate.
The other major coalition in Malaysia, Gabungan Parti Sarawak with 23 seats, said last Tuesday that it would leave the King to decide on the government’s formation, after indicating it would support PN.
Sultan Abdullah convened a special meeting of the Conference of Malay Rulers last Thursday morning, and the palace declared Mr Anwar as Prime Minister.
Speaking about Mr Hadi’s tweet, Universiti Malaya sociopolitical analyst Awang Azman Pawi said PN “needs to move on” and stop questioning “the referee”.
“Hadi’s actions will cause only anger among the public, who want to move on and focus on economic issues,” he told The Straits Times.
Twitter user @xennials2 wrote that “one team has 82 seats and you (Hadi) have 73 seats” in a clear reference to PH and PN. “What do you mean you won?” he said.