Saturday, 1 December 2007

The PAS "Cooperation" and Vote.

"So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause."
-George Lucas , Senator Amidala in Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Recently, on Malaysia Today, there was an article entitled An Open Letter to PAS, Keadilan and DAP. Although it sounded like a "balanced" letter, I do have some serious misgivings over his stand and logic, where PAS is concerned (so much so, I seriously doubt that his name is RAJAN).

Allow me to quote a few words from Rajan in the letter:
"Their pure existence as a political party was from this platform. Asking them to forgo this call, however bitter it may be for many of us, is similar to asking them to close shop."

Now I have a few questions ....
Has the "Islamic State" been on the agenda of PAS from the very beginning?
If so, how was it defined just 40yrs ago, and how is it defined now?
I'm a little confused .... when Raja Petra writes that it is about "values" and not about laws/ fatwas, and an "Ulama" says that it is all about laws and edicts - "Islamic" this & that, or "unIslamic" this & that.

Bear in mind that the definition of "Islamic State" is what matters here. To my knowledge, the current definition of Islamic State varies significantly from that, prior to the Islamic rhetoric of the post 1967 Yom Kippur war and the Iranian revolution of the 70s. Those were the days of Dato Asri in PAS. The days when the Islamic extremist of the day, would be an "unIslamic" dove by todays standards.

Those were the days when when Mak Yong, Wayang Kulit and other forms of art (performing and non-performing) were very much part of the rich local (Kelantan) culture.

We now fast forward to the 80s, with the rise of Dr. Mahathir (aka Che Det) to power in UMNO, along with the Ulamaks in PAS, with much fanfare in both parties - both promising great things, with cliches for their mottos.

Strangely, both sides took away civil liberties as a price for imposing their agendas while pulling wool over the eyes of the public. On one side, was the death of the independent press/ judiciary/ democracy which were considered "pesky"; and on the other, death of commerce, industry, lifestyles and arts which were considered "unIslamic".

Let us move on to the legacy of the current PAS leadership - a write-up about Kelantan on the BBC website in 2005, would be a timely reminder for those who wish to extol the virtues of "cooperation" with PAS for the sole intent of voting out the current Government.

Lest the proponents of this "cooperation" forget, may I remind you - that the reason we oppose actions of a government isn't necessarily to vote it out, but to demand better governance.

Moreover, I still don't understand why PAS has to "close shop" should it give up the idea of an Islamic state - it is a party that takes part in democratic elections - and that isn't a very "Islamic" virtue by some standards!
And who ever said that they cannot be Islamic in a modern democracy?
Based on "Islamic values" (as opposed to Arabic tribal values), a democracy is in spirit, a very Islamic thing to propose.
In fact, in terms of fundamental liberties and rights, some Muslim Ulamas do agree that the "great Satan", the US of A, is in fact more Islamic than the so called Islamic nations with Syariah laws!
Having said that, does the current PAS leadership approve of the fundamental liberties of a person, Muslim or otherwise? Do they believe in equal rights and freedom of choice for all?
These are questions that one should ask oneself before suggesting that PAS shouldn't be asked to give up their stand on the "Islamic State", for these are questions which are fundamental to any democracy.

The next issue is that of the meaning of the vote, that one may give PAS - is it a signal of approval of the PAS manifesto, or is it just a rebellion against the current system?
I believe it is the latter.
However, with the increasing political manifestation of the Islamist agenda in the parliament and on the street, would it not whip up the competition among Malay dominated parties to "out-Islamize" the other?
Would it increase the "Islamisation" fervour among the powers that be, akin to Mahathirs introduction of the Syariah courts to "neutralize" PAS?
In fact, a vote for PAS with its "values", may signal to the BN govt of the day, that the non-muslims have no problems with the PAS brand of Islamic politics- and this can have undesirable and disastrous effects.

This brings me to the next point - Rajan said,
"Thus all of us especially the DAP icons should remain silent on this matter and work towards the main objective – secure the parliament. If DAP and the non–Muslims fears that once the election is won, PAS and KeADILAN will join together to press for an Islamic state then Barisan is still here. Barisan by itself is not bad."

What Rajan says here is this,- "Hey DAP! I think you should bet your @$$ on PAS - but if you get buggered, that's your friggin' problem man - I'll then vote BN!"

Come on - what a juvenile logic to be used on DAP.
That was definitely a low-down, cheap shot!
Which party in their right mind would do such a thing? Let's get real here - If at all they wish to work with an "enemy", the least they would wanna do is make sure their credibility doesn't get shot.

It would've been more logical for him to appeal to PAS to give up on the Islamic state agenda (at least temporarily), to work with a logical DAP+PKR +PSM alliance, based on social democratic principles!
In fact, PAS could pull out of the alliance, if it decides to impose an agenda which isn't acceptable to other parties. It may even rejoin BN if it wishes do so - after all, it was a breakaway from UMNO, and a one time BN member party.

As far as the NEP is concerned, it is what it is - so no point in saying that you want it, but not the way it is. What Rajan tries to say (presumably) is, we need fair distribution of wealth and opportunities for all, in all sectors, with affirmative action for the poor regardless of race. For a start, I suggest that we get rid of this evil of racial and religious profiling, except in warranted medical or criminal cases.

Let's move on to the issue of "gerrymandering"........

After the Bersih march, what is the ultimatum that Bersih has given? Would they still participate in the elections? If so why? After all, you've agreed that you're all being taken for a ride.

I presume, should reform not be instituted, Bersih would call for a boycott!
Logically speaking, they should - after all, who would wanna "turun padang" and play a game where the home team gets to sell tickets to only its own supporters, with its own players acting as linesmen and referee (plus having the ability to shift the goalpost at its whim and fancy)!

Without reform, any participation of any opposition party in the elections, would definitely lend Nazri's much publicized phrase of "wayar putus" much credibility. It would strip all opposition parties of what little credibility left in them, for being hypocrites.

Nothing short of a total boycott from them (the opposition) would be acceptable, should the reasons for the Bersih rally be ignored - not even the lame excuse of putting up independents by proxy, "to deny BN an uncontested victory".

What has the opposition got to fear should their victory ring hollow? It would only open the floodgates for more agitation from the electorate .....
The opposition has to stop playing politics for the sake of selfish, financial or sectarian interests, and make national interests their priority, based on logical and viable principles.

Malaysia in in a very precarious state of affairs, and badly needs proper governance, as mentioned by DSAI on Al-Jazeera. With good governance, Malaysia would definitely realize its true potential as an economic powerhouse and paradise, simply by virtue of its strategic location, if not for anything else.

The alternative we have as a nation, is nothing but a failed state.

Allow me to sign off with a beautiful quote :
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759