Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PAS young leaders show UMNO how it is done

Will the Pakatan Rakyat continue to flourish long into the future or will it collapse under the thorns of racial politics?

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party or more commonly known as PAS is viewed by many Malaysians as a pro-Islamist political entity; aiming to establish Malaysia as a country based on Islamic principles and legal theories. While PAS still lack support from the non-Muslim community in the west coast of the Peninsula, their political presence remains strong in the conservative east.

PAS joined forces with two other Opposition parties to form the Pakatan Rakyat; in attempt to give the ruling Barisan Nasional a run for their money in the 2008 General Elections. Despite having conflicting ideologies, the alternative coalition to the government was a proven success; snatching 5 states from Barisan Nasional plus 62 extra Parliamentary seats to deny the government two thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

Many have predicted a brief existence for the Pakatan Rakyat as PAS do not share the same secular political ideologies of its partners - DAP and PKR. However, with more young intellectuals in the party's hierarchy, PAS may someday abandon it's old ultra-Islamic policies in favour of a more lenient path in politics.


PAS Shah Alam MP, Ir. Haji Khalid Abd Samad relates the defeat of his party in Terengganu in the March 8 Elections to PAS State Commissioner Dato’ Hj. Mustafa Ali's mentality of "banning everything". [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

Khalid Abdul Samad could be part of a new wave of young PAS leaders who might give a breath of fresh air to the party's conservative approach to politics. The Shah Alam MP criticized Terengganu PAS Commissioner Dato' Hj. Mustafa Ali recently; blaming him for the party's defeat in the hands of Barisan Nasional.

"We (PAS state branch) in Selangor are far weaker than our counterparts in Terengganu. Yet, we are successful. What is needed for them to consider now is their strategy and approach in politics," he said. [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

He reckoned that it was Mustafa Ali's "mentality of imposing bans" on trivial issues that had contributed to the decline in public support. Khalid also added that Mustafa Ali had been paying too much attention in imposing restrictions on concerts, liquor, gambling and dress codes. He further suggested the Terengganu party chief be more concerned in establishing a cleaner and more efficient administration.

PAS have been known in the past to be overly conservative when dealing with Western influences and have been imposing their values on others who may not share the same religion with them. Perhaps, Khalid as a young party leader realised that a multi-racial and multi-religious nation like Malaysia demands more tolerance and mutual understanding between the races in order to achieve lasting unity.

"Look, with the majority of the Terengganu's population being Malay Muslims, PAS Terengganu still failed to win in the General Elections last March. So we need to go back to the drawing board and review our approach. That's because we cannot be too stringent in governing. What's the point when at the end of the day, we do not have the support of the people?" [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

PAS Youth Information Chief of Wilayah Persekutuan, Herman Samsudeen called on the disband of all race-based political parties and replacing them with multi-racial ones for the greater good of the nation. [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

Another PAS leader took a leap of faith when he suggested that all race-based political parties should be abolished in favour of a multi-racial platform. Malaysian politics has been heavily segregated by race since the formation of the federation with the majority of political parties representing a single ethnic community. Both PAS and UMNO rely on the support of the Malays which constitutes roughly about 60% of the entire country's population. The remaining ethnic minorities are represented by parties like the MCA and MIC.

However, many Malaysians believe that the future of Malaysia remains volatile unless the country does away with race-based politics. The philosophy of a multi-cultural approach to politics and governance proved to be the Pakatan Rakyat's winning stroke in the General Elections last March. Hence, it can be implied that most Malaysians are already favouring the abolishment of racial politics.

"Racism should not be pushed aside and be used as a political agenda for any party to achieve their goals. Racism in the world of politics will evidently cause national instability and disunity ," Herman described. [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

Herman shared his view in response to MCA vice president Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai who recently said that it would be "dangerous" if all non-Malay parties defect to the Opposition; leaving the pro-Malay UMNO as the sole ruling party in the government. According to Donald Lim, a scenario like that would create racial tension and uncertainties which will affect businesses and ultimately, the economy.

However, Herman rebuked Donald Lim; saying he was merely "trying to stir racial sentiments to ensure MCA remains the sole representative of the Chinese community".

"If the Chinese parties cross over to the Opposition, this country will not be governed by the Malays alone. Because the multi-racial Pakatan Rakyat would have formed the federal government by then," he said. [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

It showed that PAS has accepted the reality of a multi-cultural Malaysia; a notion the racially-motivated UMNO is struggling to comprehend.

One can only continue to wonder how a pro-Islamist party like PAS can ever strike a formidable working partnership with the secular DAP and PKR. Yet, with the emergence of young intellectual leaders like Khalid Abdul Samad and Herman Samsudeen, a reformed PAS in the Pakatan Rakyat might just teach UMNO a thing or two about a multi-racialism.


  1. siewkwan said...

    that's pretty good news.

  2. Mag M said...

    Wow, my respect to PAS Youth. UMNO needs to learn from them. Anyway, I believe PAS leaders are better people because of their believe in God and therefore have better morals. Clearly it is shown here and many times when PAS talked about fairness and no racial discrimination as taught in Islam. I agree with Hj Khalid that PAS should not be banning everything. This scares of the non-Malays as well as the Malays. If you want people to change, educate them but not blanket enforce banning. PKR is the way to go.