Wearing black headbands that say “Bubar DUN”, delegates chant “Allahuakhbar!”
as they vow to campaign for a dissolution of the Perak state assembly
SHAH ALAM, 6 June 2009: Debates on the second day of the 55th PAS Muktamar saw support for party’s place in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition, but also anxiety over the party losing its identity.
“There’s no question of PAS leaving PR,” said Malacca PAS representative Mohd Sofi Abd Wahab in his speech today.
“It is fair to stress that the PR is good (wasiah), and it is a coalition that we should strengthen and update,” Mohd Sofi added.
He suggested that the central party leadership follow the example of the PR-lead Selangor state government, and declare its assets, “to realise transparency in politics”.
However, Mohd Sofi stressed the need for PAS leaders to reassess the party’s place within the PR.
“If PR wins federal power, we don’t want PAS to be sidelined,” Mohd Sofi said, repeating party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s suggestion yesterday that PAS lead the coalition.
Other delegates, however, where less enthusiastic about fraternising with PR. Johor PAS representative Ahmad Zulkarnain advised care in PAS’s decision to work with coalition partners PKR and DAP.
“In our lust (keghairahan) with PR, it seems as if PAS is becoming looser,” Ahmad said, adding that the Islamic party was no longer as strident in defending the faith as before.
Ahmad cited the issue of religious conversion of minors as an example. “How many PAS members protested the government’s rude decision?” Ahmad said. He was referring to the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s 22 April cabinet decision that a child’s religion must be in accordance with the common religion at the time of marriage between the parents if there was any dispute regarding the issue.
“It is as if we are keeping mum about these issues. If we do speak up, it is half-hearted (bagai melepaskan batuk di tangga),” Ahmad said.
Ahmad suggested that PAS’s primary mission was no longer Islam, but how they would secure federal power in Putrajaya.
“Is this because of our friends in PR?” he asked.
Delegates listening to Kedah PAS Youth chief Ahmad Yahya debating the presidential address
An Islamic Islam
According to Kedah PAS representative Ahmad Yahya, the current strength of the PAS Supporters Club (KPP) was a sign of growing support by non-Muslims for the Islamic party.
“Their support is increasing, to the point of clear victory in by-elections such as Bukit Selambau,” Ahmad Yahya said.
“This is a clear picture of where Malaysians are today,” he said, adding that PAS Kedah would supply its mandate towards efforts by the party to make the KPP a full-fledged wing.
However, PAS Youth deputy chief Azman Shapawi Rani cautioned care in deciding on the KPP’s place within the party.
While he acknowledged that non-Muslim Malaysian support had been essential in the party’s contemporary success, Azman said that care had to be taken in admitting non-Muslim Malaysians into the party.
“We have to refine our plan, and study it in greater detail. We cannot hurry,” Azman said in his speech.
“We are an Islamic Islam. If the decision on the club is rushed, we fear what might happen,” he added.
Perlis PAS representative Yusaini Yahya also affirmed PAS’s identity.
“We cannot forget our own struggle,” he said, adding that non-Muslims should be guided towards understanding Islam.
“We cannot force people to be Muslims,” said Ahmad Zulkarnain, in his speech.
“But we must be clear. Allah only accepts Islam as the true religion,” Ahmad added.
Delegates from Perak, Pahang and Sarawak called for missionary work to be intensified to convert non-Muslims to Islam.
Perak’s Dr Khairuddin Abd Malik suggested dakwah be conducted along with election campaigning.
Yusof Embong from Pahang said dakwah should also be conducted with KPP members because PAS was essentially an Islamic party.
“It must not just be to get non-Muslim [Malaysian] support for PAS but to save them from hell,” Yusof said to shouts of “Allahuakhbar” from the delegates.
PAS leaders and delegates in shouts of “Bubar DUN!” in a break during debates
Fear of success?
When asked about the delegates’ fears that PAS’s identity is being diluted, re-elected PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad suggested that some in the party had an irrational fear of success.
The academic argued that the party’s non-Muslim-assisted success had resulted in party members worrying that PAS was no longer purely Islamic.
“A delegate talked about how we now have support from non-Muslims. The next question to ask is, where and how did we get that support?” Dzulkefly said.
PAS parliamentarian for Shah Alam Khalid Samad believed that the delegate’s speeches demonstrated a fear that the party would go astray.
“It’s understandable that the more senior leaders are concerned, because we are in uncharted waters,” Khalid told The Nut Graph. He explained that governing as part of a coalition that contained parties with different ideologies was something new for the Islamic party.
However, Khalid believed that the delegates need not be unduly worried about PAS’s identity. “In practice, we’ve done quite well, and we’ve remained true to our principles,” he said.
Khalid was one of 54 delegates who ran for a post with the PAS central committee. Though he failed to secure a place among the 18 elected, Khalid expressed satisfaction with the party’s election results — specifically, that the grass-roots expressed their disagreement with possible negotiation with the BN for a unity government.
“The election results are a clear picture of this. I think the leaders concerned had to make many categorical denials about any possibility about co-operation with Umno,” Khalid said.
Khalid Samad (File pic) Commenting on the place of the KPP, Khalid agreed with the view that the non-Muslim group should be elevated to the status of a full wing within PAS.
“If we are to remain true to our declared objectives of representing both Muslims and non-Muslims, then we should have non-Muslim [Malaysians] represented in the party. And, in that manner, ensure that their voice is heard within our organisation,” Khalid said.
He believed that conversion to Islam should be up to individuals.
”What we can do is present the stand of Islam as accurately as possible, in terms of its systems, theology, and laws,” Khalid said.
“If they wish to become Muslims, then they become Muslims. If they don’t, then they should be still able to support us,” he added.