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PAS Muslimat oppose unity govt (Updated 5.40pm)

Updated 5.40pm on 18 June 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, 18 June 2009: PAS’s women’s wing today slammed suggestions of a unity government between PAS and the Barisan Nasional (BN), a day after the party’s spiritual leader explicitly opposed the idea.

“We urge all PAS leaders not to make new statements or suggestions that fall outside the decisions made at the muktamar (annual general assembly),” said Dewan Muslimat information chief Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud at a press conference in Parliament today.

According to Siti Mariah, the 55th PAS muktamar determined “unanimously” that the Islamist party would remain with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and DAP in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition. It also rejected “any political cooperation with Umno-BN”, she added.

She was responding to recent developments which suggested that PAS was once again considering a unity government with BN. Also present at the press conference was Dewan Muslimat deputy chief Siti Zailah Yusof and PAS Member of Parliament (MP) for Titiwangsa Dr Lo’ Lo Mohamad Ghazali.

On 16 June, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that the BN was ready to hear PAS’s unity government proposal. On the same day, PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa was quoted as saying that he accepted Najib’s offer “with an open heart”.

The unity government idea was first mooted by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, and supported by Nasharuddin despite opposition within the party towards the idea, most notably from PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

Yesterday, Nik Aziz asked Nasharuddin to quit PAS and join arch-rival Umno, if it was true that Nasharuddin supported the formation of a unity government.

“We urge [party leaders] not to bring up issues that were never discussed in central working committee (CWC) meetings or in the Majlis Syura Ulama,” Siti Mariah said.

In a later press conference, 10 PAS MPs echoed the Dewan Muslimat’s stand, saying that they supported the muktamar decision to strengthen the PR. The MPs also categorically rejected any political cooperation with BN, including the possibility of a unity government.

“We also fully support Nik Aziz’s steadfastness in handling this situation,” said PAS MP for Kuala Krai, Dr Hatta Ramli, who read from a joint statement.

At the press conference with the PAS MPs. Speaking into the microphones is Hatta Ramli. The three women are
Siti Mariah (in glasses), Lo’ Lo Mohamad Ghazali (seated) and Siti Zailah

The statement was also signed by Khalid Abdul Samad (Shah Alam), Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor), Kamarudin Jaffar (Tumpat), Siti Zailah (Rantau Panjang), Dr Siti Mariah (Kota Raja), Dr Lo’ Lo (Titiwangsa), Dr Mohd Hayati Othman (Pendang), Taib Azamudden Taib (Baling), and Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa  (Parit Buntar).

These were the only PAS MPs, out of a total of 23 the party has, who were present in Parliament today. Nasharuddin, who is the MP for Bachok, did not attend today’s sitting.

Call to quit

Khalid said Nik Aziz’s call for Nasharudin to quit the party had to be viewed in the context of talk about a PAS-BN unity government.

“Talk about a unity government is deviating from what was decided in the muktamar. If anyone is working towards this, he must do it outside the party,” Khalid said.

“[Nik Aziz’s statement] was not directed specifically at any one person, but is the general policy that PAS supports,” he added.

Earlier, Siti Mariah reiterated the stand of PAS vice-presidents Salahuddin Ayub and Datuk Mahfuz Omar, who said yesterday that the PAS leadership would decide on the issue once Hadi returned from overseas. The party’s next CWC meeting is scheduled for 22 June.

However, Siti Mariah stressed that the PAS Muslimat “should respect the leadership of our spiritual leader”.

She also called on PAS members, members of the PAS Supporters Club, and other supporters to remain calm. 

“Don’t be worried about the efforts of certain groups that want to split PR and unity within PAS,” Siti Mariah said.

Sisters in Islam

On PAS’s resolution against Sisters in Islam (SIS), Siti Mariah suggested that a review by the National Fatwa Council of the organisation could be a positive thing.

“If [SIS] is found not to go against Islamic beliefs, then that is a certificate, or clearance, that their activities are based on Islamic struggles,” Siti Mariah said, while acknowledging SIS’s contributions in defending Muslim women’s welfare.

She said PAS Muslimat would hold discussions with SIS after the 14 July 2009 Manik Urai by-election.

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