PAS must apologise for dishonouring Islam, humiliating M’sian Chinese with “Apek seluar pendek” slur

I WISH to take to task PAS on the incident of one of its leaders disparaging our Chinese community in his use of the derogatory term apek seluar pendek which means a “Chinese wearing shorts.”

According to a news report in Malaysiakini, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail has called out his Kedah counterpart Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor for disparaging the Chinese community and creating uneasiness in the Malay community just to canvass for votes in the Pelangai by-election.

Sanusi is no stranger to vulgarity in his statements which has made him – unfortunately – the most famous Malay politician at this time.

It is sad that Malays love this kind of foul-mouthed politician but they are used to this kind of culture from UMNO long before PAS itself discovers this effective method to popularity at the expense of the teachings of Islam, nation-building and the history of Chinese-Muslims being the protectors of Islam during the Cheng Ho-Parameswara Melaka times.

Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor

Humiliation of human race

Firstly, I will discuss the wrongness of using derogatory name calling on a person or a whole race like the Chinese in Malaysia from the perspective of Islam.

The term apek is unanimously accepted even by Kamus Dewan to mean an old and frail Chinese man. The term itself in normal Malay parlance many years ago when I was growing up was not meant to be derogatory.

However, to use that phrase to mean “any Chinese with short pants” smack of a racial slur using religion as its basis for this name-calling.

In the book “Bimbingan Mu’minin” which is the Malay translation of an abridged version of Imam Ghazali’s magnum opus “Ihya Ulumuddin” published many hundred years ago, the author clearly warned Muslims against using their speeches to dishonour anyone purposely.

Prophet Muhammad himself forbade Muslims from name-calling to dishonour the enemies of Islam, warning them s that their uncontrolled speeches may result in them being placed in Hell.

Here in Malaysia, we only have opposition parliamentarians, not soldiers out to kill one another.

Clearly, the PAS leader who attacked the Chinese in his apek seluar pendek slur is clearly making PAS a political party that dishonours the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Why? No PAS leader has reprimanded the PAS leader who has uttered those words of dishonour.

Secondly, we all know that the principle of Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan in the Rukun Negara (National Principles), demand that we respect each other’s culture and heritage.

It is highly doubtful that PAS leaders could misunderstand the Malay words in the Rukun Negara to the extent of allowing their man to utter the unspeakable phrase apek seluar pendek. PAS clearly has no interest in nation-building or honouring the Rukun Negara.

Disregarding history

Thirdly, PAS has also dishonoured the history of Islam in Tanah Melayu itself. Prof Khairuddin Al-Juneid, in his wonderful and masterly book “Islam in Malaysia: An Entwined History” elaborated the role that Laksamana Cheng Ho and other Chinese Muslim emissaries from China had played to the Nusantara and how they offered safe haven for Melaka from the threat of Siamese attacks.

The presence of “apek-apek” from China who were Muslims represented a power that the other empires who were thinking of invading the Muslim kingdoms in Tanah Melayu had to put a permanent pause in their battle plans.

For the information of the ignorant PAS leader, these “apek-apek” were already the intellectual, military and spiritual power long before PAS was born.

According to Prof Khairuddin, Cheng Ho was instrumental to demand that the Siamese cease any future interference in Melaka’s affairs and send gifts to China as a form of apology for its previous treatment of the Malay state.

It was purely from Cheng Ho’s firm stance toward the Siamese that Melaka grew into a center for the propagation of Islam without any interruption until Cheng Ho’s departure in 1431 (pages 96-99).

Thus, if PAS keeps silent on the foul mouth of one of its leaders disparaging the dignity of Chinese in Malaysia, the party is guilty of dishonouring Malaysia’s history, the Rukun Negara and the adab or mannerism of Islam itself as taught by the Prophet Muhammad.

I, therefore, call on all Malaysians to demand that PAS apologise to Malaysian Chinese openly and unreservedly. We cannot be a nation if one group of people dishonours our faith in Islam, our dignity as a culture or a race, and also the history of our entwined heritage. – Oct 3, 2023


Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at a local university and his writing reflects his personal opinion entirely. This opinion editorial first appeared in Sin Chew Daily (English version) under the headline “PAS Should Apologise for Dishonouring Islam, Chinese-Muslim Tanah Melayu History and Rukunegara in ‘Apek Seluar Pendek’ Issue”.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


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