WHILE the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomed rock behemoth Metallica to play at its Sandstorm festival on Dec 14 last year, PAS finds itself seemingly threatened by mild-mannered English crooner Ed Sheeran.
Instead of a headline that could possibly have read ‘Economy flounders under Madani government’ or any number of pertinent issues affecting ordinary Malaysians, HarakahDaily chose to, once again, make an issue over visiting foreign artistes.
The artistes (referring to Coldplay and Sheeran) involved are said to bring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) beliefs, screamed an alarmist editorial.
Central PAS Ulama Council Information chief Ustaz Mohd Asri Mat Daud claimed that the central government, especially the Communications Ministry, should cancel the concert, which brings a perverse agenda in society.
The British singer is scheduled to play a concert at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Feb 24. This will be Sheeran’s second visit to these shores and the hotly-anticipated gig was sold out hours after tickets went on sale last year.
While PAS may be consistent in its stance over such events, the question is whether this is the right strategic move for a party with serious intentions of governing the country.
PAS has bemoaned that it is unfairly portrayed as a ‘Taliban party’ as a scare-mongering tactic by its political opponents and segments of the media. The party’s top leadership has tacitly acknowledged that it will need the support of non-Muslims if it wishes to capture Putrajaya.
Efforts to paint PAS in a different light via social media postings about the Thaipusam procession in Kelantan and Chinese calligraphy events for the upcoming Lunar New Year are to be applauded.
These are obviously aimed at painting the organisation as a more moderate entity rather than a hardline, right-wing party that is opposed to all things non-Muslim/non-Malay.
Loudly calling for the cancellation of the gig only serves to underline the perception that PAS rule will lead to an erosion of rights of non-Muslims, be it to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or attend a concert.
While PAS may have been critical of recent developments in Saudi Arabia, the party may want to take a leaf out of the desert kingdom’s strategy of changing global perception. From making it a foodie destination to heavy metal concerts, Saudi Arabia is determined to be seen in a different light.
If PAS really wants to shed that the ‘Taliban party’ tag then a rethink is required. Getting on its collective high horse and calling for blanket bans may endear them to the conservative demographic, but it will do nothing to sway non-Muslim voters.
By the way, on the same date that Sheeran is scheduled to perform, Korean megastar Cha Eun-woo will be staging a concert at Stadium Melawati in Shah Alam. Did PAS miss out on this one or is Cha not famous enough for them to oppose his gig? – Feb 2, 2023
Main pic credit: Today Online