Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The PAS factor - A Viable Alternative?

DAP to go it alone if PKR works with PAS The Star: Monday, November 19, 2007 PENANG: The DAP will work with Parti Keadilan Rakyat at the next general election only if the PKR disassociates itself from PAS. DAP national chairman Karpal Singh said the party wants PKR de factor leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to publicly declare that he will not work with PAS. “The DAP is for a secular state, not an Islamic state. If Anwar chooses to be silent on the matter, the DAP is ready to fight without the PKR,” he said at a dinner organised by the DAP Bukit Bendera division on Saturday.

The matters that I wish to write are simply personal opinions. None of them are uncontested "truths", and are subject to debate and correction/ alteration. I do not mean to "accuse" any relevant party/parties of the things mentioned here - these are perceptions and personal opinions, based on "current events". Allow me to digress a little ....

At present, the most powerful opposition party in the parliament is actually PAS, considering the fact that they hold sway among the conservative Malay- Muslim populace, even though it is Mr. Lim Kit Siang who frequently voices for the opposition.
He is for all practical purposes, at present, just a "showpiece" for Democracy (Malaysian Style).

He is often subjected to derogatory and humiliating remarks from MPs from the ruling coalition. It beats me as to why he puts up with such infantile behaviour from such chauvinistic ignoramuses we call "YB"s. If at all politics were my line, and I were an MP in sitting I would stage a walk-out the moment these "lovers of monkeys" misbehave in the "august house".

(Politics is definitely not my line - never was, and never will be - considering the fact that I will never ever subscribe to sectarian/ racial/ religious politics of this country, which is the legacy of colonial divide-and-rule policies! Malaysia is a country divided along sectarian lines as a result despite all the political spins about being "peaceful, tolerant, united and progressive".)

Anyway, getting back to the subject of discussion - The PAS Factor. Is it really an alternative which the Malay electorate offer the "Kufr"? If they believe it to be so, so be it - and I wish to discuss it.

Let me start by saying, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that Tok Guru Mursyidul Am Nik Aziz and Tok Guru Hadi are truly gems - they would put to shame a lot of us out here through their sincerity in wanting a truly civil society. However, that is far from what concerns the nation as a whole.

Having been in parliament for such a long time, and being "veterans" at being the opposition, I do not recall much of any issues of financial, social, national or international interest which PAS has fought for - please pardon my ignorance, if this this isn't the case, and I wish to be enlightened.

Discussions of universal human rights would be lost on the wise ulamas of PAS, simply becos they prefer to perceive the world from the perspective of one from age, long gone.
They do not believe in universal human rights, simply because, from their perspective the Muslim individual should be accorded special privileges under Islamic laws.
They do not believe in freedom of thought.
Neither do they subscribe to freedom of worship.
They do not believe, that it is my right as an individual Human Being under "God-given rights" to be a Hindu, Christian, Zoroastrian or Muslim, as and when I please, even if I'm confused! They do not believe that it is my right to be an "apostate", as and when I choose - and it isn't their right to persecute me for it!
They of course say that "God" says otherwise!

Debates on these issues with the ulamas would have them refer to scriptures, instead of common sense, to argue their point on "righteousness" -
they'd obviously say, "...... because, the good book says so and it is God's law!"
It is quite obvious from the earlier discussion (go to archives), that most of PAS supporters are mesmerized by their charisma and religious fervour, and are thus taken up by them. Little do they understand the implications of PAS policy - the socio-economic implications of their Islamist agenda.

Allow me to post a few questions I had posted in the discussion mentioned, again -

-Don't you realize that your policies are exclusivistic?
-Don't you realize that you are the ones keeping BN in power?
-That you are instrumental to their existence?
-That you complement their intentions?
-How many of you actually understand and are tolerant of the sentiments, culture, religions and lifestyle of the Kufr?
(By this I do not mean the negligible Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis and Pahang populace).
-Do you intend to start policies of Islamic this and Islamic that?
-Do you plan to impose nationwide dress code and gender segregation should you gain power?
-Would you endeavour to abolish "immoral" entertainment outlets?
-What about education? Wanna promote madrasahs?
-Take a good look at your policies and ask yourselves - Are you the Trojan Horse party?

I didn't receive any replies to these simple concerns, and so I didn't pursue the issue, or ask questions on more complex matters. Maybe these questions were too "insignificant" or simplistic for them ... I wouldn't know.
Sadly, after a year discussing about this issue, the only flimsy arguments I get from them are the standard - "Oh so you'd rather have UMNO corruption ....", "What is there to fear?", "Islamic law aka Syariah is righteous and just", "Look PAS has built (or allowed the building of) some Buddha statues", "Ask the Chinese of Kelantan ....." and so on and so forth.

To think that the supporters of the Islamic State platform, should not understand the sentiments and insecurity that they fear under such a system, is mind boggling, to say the least. All of them point to Kelantan - as to how peaceful and harmonious it is! However, just seeing the "prosperity" of the common man on the streets of Kota Baru,( at least, based on the cars in the capital Township), sends shivers down my spine ......
Most Malay-Muslim PAS/ opposition supporters are willing to trade-off principles of justice, becos they wish to weaken UMNO Baru - not becos they believe in their cause. Their reasonings for working with PAS are too simplistic, and absolutely makes no sense. To that end, I believe Mr. Karpal's stand on PAS's Islamic state issue is justified.

Malaysians are basically politically illiterate - they know very little about socio-political issues and are easily manipulated due to their ignorance. It has been the intention of those in power to keep it that way by being the only ones who would be able to relay "the truth" via the media under their thumb.

The general public in Malaysia are so easily manipulated via "financial incentives" or religious fervor, that they have become complacent and behave like the illiterate masses coming from rural India. I'm sorry, I believe the rural masses in India are more politically aware despite their illiteracy - maybe Africa would be a better choice .....

This in itself sets a very dangerous precedent, as the electorate wouldn't be able to exercise their constitutional right to an "informed choice".

This elementary issue is (from my perspective) the main issue, which lies at the heart of all the democratic institutions of the world - making an "informed choice". Not casting the ballot, or indelible ink! This was in fact at the heart of the BERSIH march on 10/11/07. Without freedom of speech, information and media, there can be no democracy, no matter how many Lim Kit Siangs, Karpal Singhs, Hadi or Nazis scream their guts out at monkeys in parliament - for God , King and Country (or maybe Bangsa, Agama dan Negara)!

Once the electorate is able to make an "informed choice", everything else would fall into place - and the key to it all is a free media, and free discussions on socio-political or philosophical matters. This in itself would set the ball rolling for a social and political awakening, and would bring about a "renaissance" among the electorate. It beats me, how a PAS government would allow this, when they speak for an Islamic state.

Having said that, I would stress here that, should PAS be able to work out a solution, and guarantee all of us these universal human rights, I wouldn't deny them my vote, should the situation warrant it.

As things are, I'm not so sure if I'd like to have a candidate with whom I cannot discuss "certain issues" of concern to me, because "God says so ...".
I guess I'll just have to wait and see what the Malay-Muslim Malaysians (aka the "real Malaysians" whose god-given "rights" are unquestionable under an unsigned "social contract" in the current system) decide for the future - peaceful evolution or revolution!

"While we accord high priority to social and economic rights, we must at the same time guard ourselves from stretching the argument too far. Development cannot be used as an apology for authoritarianism. The fact of the matter is that more nations have been impoverished by authoritarianism than enriched by it. By not giving vent to the vices of dissent, wrongs cannot be made right and remedies for failures cannot be made available," said Anwar.

"Thus the notion that freedom must be sacrificed on the altar of development must be rejected. It is our conviction that only through the ability of every individual, however weak or disadvantaged, to freely articulate his fears and grievances can we hope to bring about a just and caring society. Only by guaranteeing the individual's right to participate fully in society's decision-making processes can we confer legitimacy to political leadership and governance, for government derives their just powers from the consent of the governed."

- Anwar Ibrahim,University of the Philippines Law Centre's Institute of Human Rights,1994