By Singa Terhormat
I first came across Nik Aziz in 1990.
Truth be told, I was expecting someone fiery and fearsome and I was a bit hesitant to meet him.
I had become victim to the local media’s demonization of him as being someone fanatical and half-crazy.
I was however surprised to find him very soft-spoken, so much so I had to lean forward to hear his words.
His face too reflected that of a calm, God-fearing person and there was an aura of kindness and gentleness about him.
I can still recall that moment as his persona defied and demolished all earlier perceptions I had had of him.
About the same time too, I had occasion to meet several other PAS leaders and the impression I formed was that they had been terribly wronged by our local media.
Looking beyond their attire, which admittedly is not common for one brought up in an urban setting along the West Coast, as I was, one could unmistakably recognize their greater sincerity, hospitality and gentleness towards others. It is often said that what the eyes reveal do not lie and indeed amongst many of them their eyes reflected those qualities..
It brought home to me the matter of human frailty in that so often when we come across persons or things that are strange or unusual to us we readily and unfairly form prejudices against such persons/things without further examination of the matter.
It is really our refusal to go beyond our ‘comfort zone’ that results in this.
In many ways they were strange to me, but I could see they were kind-hearted souls.
Of course, I am sure, there must be some ‘black sheep’ amongst them too but generally there was nothing I saw even approaching Umno’s penchant for trickery, treachery and selfishness. These were men and women who were basically God-fearing and they by and large exhibited that in their daily conduct.
They may not be as worldly-wise as their brethren in the West Coast, but there is more than a thing or two that they could teach those in the West Coast about human decency.
Almost overnight then, my earlier impression of them changed.
On numerous trips after that to the East Coast, I also met several non-Malays and non-Muslims residing there and the impression I formed was that they were generally a happy lot and they treated and were treated by their Malay-Muslim ‘neighbours’ as almost ‘family-members’.
They were not as rich materially as their ‘cousins’ along the West Coast but they were totally at ease and felt safe and secure with the Malay-Muslims there.
On one occasion my car broke down and I had to take it to a workshop in Kota Bharu to have it fixed. I learnt that the Chinese mechanic attending to my car hailed from Taiping. On enquiring what caused him to migrate to Kota Bharu, he replied that he felt welcome and totally at home there and life was simpler, safer and uncomplicated.
It reminded me that during the May 13th incidents (allegedly initiated by some to several UMNO chieftains), the non-Malays in Kelantan and Trengganu, although being more heavily outnumbered as compared to their West Coast ‘cousins’, were in fact the safest in the country. There was no incident at all in those places.
It did not totally surprise me therefore to read about and see online how Nik Aziz had gone to visit Karpal Singh and later welcome the Bishop in his hotel room. I noticed too how both of his hands were stretched out in humility to clasp Karpal’s and how warmly and graciously they had received each other. There was so much goodwill between all of them. It so obviously came from the heart.
I recall someone close to me recounting how on the occasion of a visit to Nik Aziz at his house after he had become Mentri Besar, this guest of his was amazed to find that all the guests had to sit on the carpeted floor as there was hardly any furniture around and that Nik Aziz’s wife herself was busy in the kitchen preparing food and drinks for them, unaided, which she herself personally served. I want to salute Nik Aziz for having exhibited the true qualities of a Muslim leader.
This is the real 1Malaysia, not Najib’s and Muhyiddin’s orchestrated public campaigns to hoodwink the public whilst at the same time ‘closing an eye” to, if not actually condoning, all the provocation fostered by Perkasa, Katak Ali, Harrusani, JAKIM and their kind.
Najib went all the way to the Vatican to give the impression that he is ‘for all’ whilst at the same time ignoring all the unholy provocation, including the call to burn the Bibles, on his home-front.
How hypocritical can one get?
And now Haris tells us that Najib will soon be leading a Harmony walk to commemorate World Interfaith Harmony Week with religious leaders at Brickfields.
Will they never end their patronizing ways and come to understand that the rakyat will judge them on their deeds and not mere words and slogans?
In the run up to the 13th GE, you can be sure that our local media will again demonise PAS and its leaders to the non-Malays and non-Muslims whilst at the same time demonizing DAP as being anti-Islam to the Malays. What exact stories and events the media will likely come up with, only their evil minds can envisage.
To my fellow-Malaysians therefore, I call upon you to anticipate such happenings and to ignore and disregard them. Let us exercise wisdom in the matter and not be influenced by racist and religious overtones that are meant to divide and cheat us.