Categorised | Letters to the Editor

PAS should accept diversity

IS PAS ready for non-threatening, open dialogue with dissenting voices within civil society?

The recent resolution by PAS to investigate and possibly ban the women’s rights group Sisters in Islam (SIS) suggests that PAS needs a reminder to react democratically to opposing views.  This is not an unfamiliar call that civil society and political parties make to those in public life, a call that even PAS has made to others.

This resolution also sends a reminder to voters that we need to demand the highest respect for democratic processes from our political parties.  We must insist that PAS accept differing opinions in a rational manner that does not demean democracy.

We urge PAS to retract this resolution and acknowledge the need for diversity and democracy.  In addition to being regressive, this resolution sends a clear message that PAS will not tolerate differing thoughts and dissenting voices.  By threatening to ban a non-governmental organisation for “espousing liberal” ideas, PAS is further limiting basic freedom of expression.

This ban, if effected, will set a distressing precedent for organisations that do not promote the same tenets as PAS.  We firmly believe that our leaders, including PAS, must create and diligently safeguard the democratic space to permit all civil society voices to be heard.

We commend the two PAS Members of Parliament, Dr Lo’ Lo’ Mohamad Ghazali (Titiwangsa) and Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Kota Raja), who courageously encouraged open dialogue rather than banning SIS as a whole.  We urge more PAS leaders and members to speak up in favour of democratic and inclusive practices.

There can be no compromise on the need to respect and uphold democratic norms.  This process has for example involved, and continues to involve, the fight against oppressive laws, the fight for freedom of speech, the demand for elections in Perak, the release of those held under the Internal Security Act and so on.  Those that compromise these higher principles in any one instance do so at great cost to their credibility.

The call for open discourse on these issues is a call made to all who are tempted to use repressive tactics to stifle differences of opinion.  We call on our leaders to practise a policy of dialogue and constructive engagement in order to unite and build trust amongst all Malaysians.

Ivy Josiah
Executive Director
Women’s Aid Organisation
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

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7 Responses to “PAS should accept diversity”

  1. moreto come says:

    To Ivy Josiah,

    Please let the Muslims themselves solve this problem, please do not create an impression that another non-Muslim can advise what a Muslim can do and cannot do. Please do not sow the seeds of hatred. If you do not want to be misinterpreted, just be neutral.

  2. Fikri Hakim says:

    Does not PAS also have the right for her opinion? Yes, PAS is playing her role as a political party. For those who think they have the monopoly of freedom of opinion, should they not also respect other people’s dissenting views? As a party that promotes Islam, let them give their view on things that they feel are un-Islamic. After all, Islam is the official religion in this country. If you have a different view, then you also have right to express your own view. As long as you are not breaking the rules and law of this country, then you are OK. At least they are representing their members and please check the number of their members.

  3. YS says:

    Some people just want other to “respect” their ways until an extent they forgot they have to respect others’ ways as well.

  4. Reza says:


    You are right in saying that everyone, including PAS, has a right to their views. But having a right to your opinion means that you may state your views and/or disagree with others. It does not mean that you can try to force others to shut up if their views are different from yours. This is what PAS is doing by trying to ban SIS and they have no right to do this. SIS has a right to their interpretation of Islam.

  5. Suevandette says:

    @ Moreto come

    What do you mean let Muslims solve the problems themselves? Aren’t Muslims our brothers and sisters too?

    Don’t we have a right to speak up when we feel that our sisters are being treated in an unfair manner?

    Ivy Josiah is the kind of Malaysian we need to see more of. She is NOT sowing seeds of hatred, in fact quite the contrary. Look who’s talking.

    BTW, I’m a 20 year old non-Muslim Malaysian. And even I feel that banning SIS is unfair. SIS has contributed a LOT to society. None of the Malaysian political parties would be able to achieve what SIS has, in this lifetime.

  6. First and foremost, Sisters in Islam is an NGO. So is the Women’s Aid Organisation.

    They’re NGO sisters whom support one another. For that Ivy Josiah should be commended.

    This matter of calling the banning of Sisters in Islam is not just an Islamic issue. It transcends that especially since PAS brought up such a resolution as a POLITICAL party.

  7. PakLah says:

    Kita semua mesti berusaha agar PAS bersetuju untuk dialog mengenai perkara ini. Kalau PAS masih tak mahu dialog maknanya itulah sikap PAS. Jadi PAS bertanggungjawab menjelaskan perkara ini. Saya percaya tidak semua dalam PAS bersetuju dengan perkara ini. Secara jangka panjang ia akan merugikan PAS jika teruskan resolusi ini.

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