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PKR, DAP urge PAS to retract resolution on SIS

Updated 6.42pm on 8 June 09

PETALING JAYA, 8 June 2009: Both Parti Keadilan Rakyat and the DAP have urged PAS to reconsider its call to ban non-governmental organisation (NGO) Sisters in Islam (SIS).

“As PAS is rallying for a ‘PAS for All’ image of the party, it should promote and practise democracy and not be seen as [imposing] its Islamic values on others,” said DAP Wanita chairperson Chong Eng in a statement today.

Chong Eng
“The call for banning will be seen as bullying, as SIS is only a small NGO compared to PAS’s large membership and resources,” Chong Eng added.

Chong Eng was responding to the Islamic party’s resolution, in its 55th muktamar, to request that the National Fatwa Council investigate SIS, and declare it “haram” if the Muslim NGO was found to be anti-Islam.

The resolution was one of 11 passed without debate. It also said SIS members should undergo religious rehabilitation should the Muslim women’s rights organisation be found to go against Islam.

Chong Eng called on PAS to reverse this resolution, as it contravened the spirit of democracy and freedom of expression.

She suggested that the Islamic party call for an open debate with SIS, if indeed the party believed that SIS was promoting ideologies that were contrary to the faith.

Chong Eng also suggested that PAS solicit advice from its women leaders. “They may be more well-versed in his kind of issue,” Chong said.

However, the motion against SIS was initially mooted by the Shah Alam Muslimat wing before it was tabled by Shah Alam PAS at the muktamar. Shah Alam PAS chief Khalid Samad told The Nut Graph yesterday he had asked the muslimat to tone down the resolution and stress engagement with SIS, but that did not happen.

Khalid Samad
PKR also disagreed with PAS on the matter.

“The correct way is to engage and debate with any organisation in a mature and civilised manner, rather than seeking for its ban and punishment for its members,” said PKR vice-president Mustaffa Kamil Ayub in a press statement today.

According to Mustaffa, differing and dissenting views should not only be allowed, but be protected, as these are the essence of a democratic and just society.

The DAP and PKR are in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, together with PAS.

Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan said in a statement today that as a Malaysian political party with aspirations to represent all Malaysians, PAS should be open to diverse opinions and accept dissenting views.

He called on the Islamist party to move away from the “typical Malaysian political approach” to ban different viewpoints.

“We are heartened to note that, despite the resolution, two PAS delegates called for engagement with SIS,” Ragunath noted, citing Dr Lo’ Lo Mohamad Ghazali and Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud.

Wanita Gerakan secretary-general Jayanthi Devi Balaguru said it was regrettable that calls were made to ban SIS.

“If PAS is concerned that the views of Sisters in Islam are contrary to the teachings in Islam, then they should share their own views and tell people why. Banning organisations and groups just because they share a different perspective and beliefs is uncalled for,” Jayanthi said.

“Freedom of ideas and association are the cornerstones of a just and progressive society, something that Gerakan strongly believes in, and it is enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” said Jayanthi.

On another matter, Chong Eng said it was high time for PAS to move away from imposing Islamic dress codes. “They should get down to the real issues of gender equality, and problems faced by women, men and family,” said Chong.

Chong Eng was reacting to calls by some PAS delegates, during the muktamar debates, for women reporters to cover their heads. Wanita MCA chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun had earlier said such complaints was proof of the Islamist party’s “Talibanisation”. 

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One Response to “PKR, DAP urge PAS to retract resolution on SIS”

  1. Women’s voices:

    I’m all for speaking up!

    I’m all for articulating thoughts, opinions, viewpoints, ideas in speech and writing!

    For only in making yourself heard and read can you effect learning in yourself and others. And only through knowledge and experience can you bring about the desired improvement or change or development or progress.

    I’m all for healthy interaction and communication and exchange – what is currently referred to as “engagement” that is, involving one another in the pursuit of these improvements, changes, developments, progress; that is, what is popularly called “inclusiveness”

    For there’s no doubt that societal change involves society’s stakeholders, that is the men and women and young people and children who constitute society and who are the beneficiaries of the change.

    Every segment of society matters in any change that is going to affect their lives!

    For it is these men and women and young people and children that constitute the family, one of the most important if not the core unit in society!

    Each segment has a voice and the right to make themselves heard and be heard, whether it is in the championing of social justice, humanitarian issues, political concerns, culture and tradition or religious responsibilities.

    If there is dissent or disagreement either within the segment or without there must be room for discussion and debate, either in an open forum or behind closed doors.

    You don’t simply shut the door to shut people out/up?

    I therefore view the PAS call to ban Sisters In Islam (SIS) as a cowardly, retrogressive move!

    I object strongly to the PAS call to “rehabilitate” the SIS women who have fought long and hard to engage men and women in a more progressive discourse on Islam.

    Through their research-based programmes which are reinforced by continuous input and feedback from enlightened thinkers and scholars, SIS has slowly but surely effected change in the landscape for Muslim women.

    SIS is the voice that has spoken loudly and clearly about the injustices borne by Muslim women and advocated change or modification to a male-centric interpretation of the syariah.

    The two lone and lonely voices of the PAS women in an oblique support of SIS represent the great injustice in the Muslim world – the silencing of articulate voices (be they from men or women) who only want the justice and equality promised in the Quranic teachings.

    When Muslims should be reaching out to one another to present a united, compassionate and merciful ummah, emulating our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in all his 99 attributes, we are at odds with one another over something as important as justice and equality!

    For Muslims to be taken seriously, there must be genuine efforts at a real muzakarah of the men and women of Islam to iron out the creases in the understanding of the syariah.

    Age-old prejudices and misconceptions about the duties and responsibilities of men and women in the family and society must be looked at within the context of present-day needs and requirements!

    This is the way forward!

    E pluribus unum (out of many, one)!

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