Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the recent remark by a PAS MP on the dress code of female nurses were not only uncalled for but also a disservice to the Islamist party, saying he believed the view is not representative of its senior leadership.
Khairy was referring to Kuantan MP Wan Razali Wan Nor's complaint in Parliament recently that nurses' uniform is too tight and not Shariah-compliant, a remark which drew strong criticism on social media.
The former Umno leader said while he agreed that the topic of nurses' dress code was a non-issue, he felt that Wan Razali has undone efforts put in by PAS leaders over the years in fighting stereotypes perpetrated by its detractors.
"What infuriates me is that this statement confirms the stereotype about PAS. That's the problem," he said in the latest edition of 'Keluar Sekejap', a podcast he co-hosts with former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan.
Khairy said PAS has already emerged out of its conservative label, adding that the party's top tiers are no longer dominated by theologians but represented by a wide spectrum of expertise.
"Many of them are professionals, engineers, lawyers, bankers and so on. As a former minister who has been in the government, including being a PAS minister in the Cabinet, I see those at the highest level are very practical," said Khairy, who served in two federal governments which included PAS as a coalition partner.
He described senior PAS leaders such as its deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan and vice-president Idris Ahmad as "practical" individuals who "do not portray the stereotypes such as this Kuantan MP".
"It only takes one statement to remind the public that behind this new professional face, PAS is still the old PAS," he added.
Khairy meanwhile disagreed with a suggestion by Shahril that the image of PAS leaders, including its president Abdul Hadi Awang, might have reinforced the perception of the party as conservative, as opposed to the "moderate" image of Umno leaders which drown out conservative voices.
Khairy said while Hadi was regarded as an authority on religion and may be seen as conservative, the next line of the current PAS leadership is made up of people "who wouldn't have made remarks like this".
He said at a time when PAS was faced with a huge challenge in efforts to come out of its past image, an ordinary MP's statement such as from Wan Razali has done the damage.
"But, personally, I think he does not represent the new PAS that it (the party) is trying to present," said Khairy.
Touching on a related topic, Khairy said the constant use of the phrase "green wave" to describe Perikatan Nasional's (PN) gains in the polls last year is an attempt at painting the coalition's partner PAS as religious extremists.
"The 'green wave', as popularised by among others, Lim Kit Siang, carries a negative connotation as it shows the green wave that is used to describe the rise of PN is an extremist wave. This is actually the implied meaning of green wave.
"In modern political science, it's called 'dog whistle', a term to describe a threat to another group. The 'green wave' is not about the colour of the PAS flag, but a term used to scare non-Malays and moderate Malays alike against the wave of Islamic extremism," said Khairy.