KUALA LUMPUR: The Perikatan Nasional (PN) leadership's last ditch attempt to woo Malay votes by playing the religious card shows the party has derailed from its promise of promoting an inclusive society.
Political observers said PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's fear mongering tactics of using religion to propagate his political agenda also reflected badly on him, especially since he was positioning himself as the prime minister designate for PN.
"It is unbecoming and unacceptable of him to use religion to win support, especially since he is the prime minister candidate of his coalition.
"When he was the prime minister, Muhyiddin used to preach about celebrating unity and respecting people of different race and religion.
"However, he is now singing a different tune," national professors council senior fellow Dr Jeniri Amir said.
The Sarawak-based political analyst was commenting on reports of Muhyiddin's controversial remark that it was dangerous for Pakatan Harapan (PH) to return to power as the coalition was sponsoring jews.
In a video clip which has since gone viral, the former prime minister suggested that there would be a "Christianisation process" if PH was returned to Putrajaya.
"That's one of their long-term strategies. We might not see it now but if we're not careful it can happen," he was heard as saying in the video clip.
Muhyiddin claimed that "the agenda of these people was to make Malaysia a part of their colony".
His remarks have sparked a storm of protests with the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) urging action to be taken against the incumbent Pagoh member of parliament and also police reports lodged against him.
Jeniri said Muhyiddin's remarks would not only turn away non-Muslim voters but also cost the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) president support from Sabah and Sarawak.
Another political analyst Dr Ainul Adzellie Hasnul said he was shocked as such remarks were uttered by someone who had served as the country's prime minister.
"He is the PN chairman and such remarks will certainly backfire on the party and reduce their chances.
"The damage is done as we are less than 12 hours away from polling day," he said, adding the right thing for the PN leader to do now would be to issue an apology.
Analysts also chided Muhyiddin for playing up the religious card, noting that he had previously gone to town with his Abah moniker, pledging that he wanted to be seen as a father figure for all Malaysians.
"Abah" is a deferential term for father in Malay.
Jeniri and Ainul agreed that the controversial 'Christianisatian' remark may be an attempt by Muhyiddin to deviate public attention from questions about him awarding RM500 billion in contracts during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"He has yet to give details about the contracts which were awarded. This is all the more pressing as he has been championing for a clean and corrupt free governance."
Melaka PH chairman Adly Zahari had previously said the coalition planned to investigate how the contracts were awarded if it forms the next government.