PAS’ manipulation of race and religion in anticipation of the coming state election is mind-boggling to say the least.Apart from the various accusations and allegations against DAP or unity government, this time around, the Islamic party has brought to light the loss of Malay lands to non-Malays in Penang over the years. It compared the situation of Malays in Penang to the sad plight of Palestinians who had lost their lands to the Israeli occupation forces. Moreover, while PAS is quick on the draw when it comes to race and religion, it has a pathetic performance when it comes to the presentation of systematic evidence. It is argued by the party that in 2010, Malays only had 28% of the land share in Penang. Whether such a share was confined to the island, the mainland or both is not clear. I would think that the reference was made to the island part of Penang. However, a Universiti Sains Malaysia study in 2008 said that the Malay share of the land was slightly above 20%. If this is so, then PAS must be happy that the land ownership of Malays is on the rise and that the ownership share has gone up by 8% within two years. I am wondering why PAS is relying on land figures from 13 years ago without updating the current nature of land ownership. It is not clear what is meant by land ownership of the Malays? Does it refer to individual private ownership or lands held in trust by government agencies? PAS should not engage in empty talk, it must come up with the latest figures about the Malay share of land ownership in Penang, both parts. On too many occasions, PAS is let off easily by making scurrilous allegations without presenting evidence. PAS can repeat half-truths and lies simply because it gets away with them without being subjected to rigorous inquiry. If people are not well informed, PAS by repeating lies often might turn them into “truth”. Land ownership in Penang is a complex matter. Ownership by Malays might straddle from individual private ownership, trusts and wakaf (endowments). As the state election is fast approaching, people should be braced for other preposterous allegations from PAS. As someone said, equating the loss of Palestinian land to the Israelis with the loss of Malay land in Penang is great disservice to the former. The territory of Palestine is occupied by the Israeli forces, it is not so much a loss of land as an occupation of the worst kind. In fact under conditions of military occupation, there is no such thing as the sanctity of land ownership by the Palestinians. Maybe there is a shrinkage of Malay and non-Malay private lands due to urbanisation and commercialisation. Furthermore, PAS’s attempt to give the impression that Malay lands are being systematically swallowed up by non-Malays or the state is a mischievous racist attempt. – June 14, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.