KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Kedah Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor was intentionally courting controversy with temple demolitions for which he told critics not to be drunk on “toddy of popularity”, Bagan Dalam assemblyman Satees Muniandy asserted today.
The state lawmaker in the neighbouring state of Penang alleged that Sanusi was being provocative on purpose as the latter wanted to draw attention from his claim this week that mineral deposits worth “RM43 trillion” had been discovered in Kedah.
“The demolition of non-Muslim houses of worship is among tactics of the PAS government in Kedah to divert public attention from its shortcomings,” Satees said in a statement.
“Isn’t it ironic, when the Kedah MB intentionally plays up this issue, including calling for MIC — a party within the Perikatan Nasional — to be banned when the public are laughing at him for claiming ‘Kedah has identified mineral deposits worth 43 trillion’.”
The discovery of “RM43 trillion” in mineral deposits within Malaysia would have been monumental given that the value of the entire Malaysian economy for 2019 was just RM1.5 trillion.
Such minerals would also have given Malaysia another crucial resource to exploit over the country’s approximately 3.7 billion barrels in proven oil reserves that were worth around RM1 trillion at current prices.
However, Sanusi’s office later clarified that the deposits were valued at RM62 billion.
Today, Satees noted that the demolition appeared to coincide with the controversy of Sanusi’s “RM43 trillion” claim, which he said has brought the competence of the Kedah government into question.
Satees went on to accuse Sanusi of targeting non-Muslim houses of worship to burnish his Islamist credentials, but said such efforts have only gone on to divide Malaysians by race and religion.
Previous Kedah government also did not appear to have issues with non-Muslim houses of worship in the state, according to the Penang assemblyman who pointed out that the matter only became a problem when under the current PAS government.
Among others, he said many of the houses of worship labelled as illegal by the Kedah administration were from before Merdeka, have existed for decades and built on land that has changed hands several times.
“This shows the PAS government in Kedah does not understand the background of the houses of worship, and only want to use these to play up racial sentiments for politics,” he added.
Satees went on to say that the failure of the central PAS leadership or Perikatan Nasional to reprimand Sanusi for his remarks demonstrated their lack of ability to effectively govern a multiracial electorate.
Yesterday, Sanusi posted a message on Facebook telling detractors from MIC and DAP not to criticise the demolition of a temple in Kedah that he also brushed off as a small matter.
He questioned why MIC and DAP did not similarly criticise the demolition of a silat ring near the temple.
“Let us not argue in the future simply because one is drunk on the toddy of popularity, and become race champions in the present,” Sanusi said in a Facebook post.
“Senior politicians such as they might as well not drink one bottle, but get drunk on two or three instead,” Sanusi said.
The choice of toddy, a palm wine, and silat in his remarks appeared to have racial overtones.
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