Malaysian Islamist political party PAS has courted backlash on social media over the past weekend, after members of their Terengganu youth division were seen organising and participating in a parade clad in replica armour while wielding fake weapons.
PAS raises concerns for parade involving attendees in fake armour & weapons
As reported by local news agency Utusan Malaysia, the parade had been held as part of the Himpunan Pemuda Islam Terengganu (HIMPIT) gathering that took place in the district of Setiu, Terengganu on Friday (February 17th, 2023). Photos of the parade circulating over social media show a number of attendees dressed in pieces of fake armour while wielding replica spears, swords, and shields as they made their way down a road lined with PAS flags.
This was believed to be part of a costume parade which also featured other creatively decorated novelties such as a DIY replica of a plane and one of a steam engine, as well as a stylised motorcycle sidecar among other attractions.
A quick check on the event’s official Facebook page show that other events were also held during the gathering, including sporting matches such as football and sepak takraw, alongside talks led by local preachers and figures affiliated with the party.
According to local newspaper The New Straits Times, some of the more notable names from within PAS leadership who were seen at the event reportedly included PAS Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari and PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang.
From a WhatsApp correspondence with PAS public relations officer Mohd Shahir Abu Hassan, The Vibes claims that HIMPIT 2023 was organised to drum up support ahead of the state election, which is due to take place by the middle of the year.
‘Similar to Chinese opera,’; Party members defend the event
In the face of criticism, PAS deputy president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has defended those who attended the two-day gathering and said that they should not be made out to be militants over their costumed garb.
“It is similar to a Chinese opera where the actors also carry swords and spears.
There is no issue here. It is better for us to focus our time and energy on more meaningful things such as tackling the rising cost of living, education and social problems,” he adds.
Tuan Ibrahim went on to advise detractors against casting a negative light on the party based off on ‘one or two pictures’ online. His sentiments were echoed by PAS treasurer Datuk Iskandar Abdul Samad, who likened the costumed parade to a pantomime performance, and explained that attendees have previously dressed as fabled Malay warriors.
“I believe they were dressing up just like the Uthmaniah warriors back then. Of course they were not using real swords.
This is nothing new..previously they also dressed up as Malay warriors like Hang Tuah. There is nothing wrong in what they did on Friday.”
Doubling down on defending their members, he claims that attempts were being made to instigate conflict using the event.
In response, Terengganu state police have confirmed that they will be launching an investigation over the matter. Quoting head of Terengganu police Datuk Rohaimi Md Isa, Harian Metro reports that the local authorities had known about the gathering but were not informed about the parade that featured replica weapons.
Their probe aims to determine if there are any legal grounds to take action against parade attendees.
According to Astro Awani, that members of Terengganu PAS Youth say that they are ready to cooperate with authorities in the investigation.
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