11 June, 2009

PAS's intolerance and prejudice against SIS

SIS' activities were dangerous as they could cause confusion among the Muslims.

"We are aware that their approach can easily be accepted by the Muslims and this is dangerous as it can twist their aqidah, especially the young and those who went through the secular education,"

The call was made in a motion that was tabled by Shah Alam division at the party's 55th general assembly here yesterday.

The motion which was adopted without debate also called on the fatwa council to investigate in full the activities of carried out by the organisation.

The repercussions of the somewhat clumsy attempt by some sections of PAS to call for the investigation, and possibly banning, of the Muslim women’s rights group Sisters in Islam are still being felt today.

Many questions have arisen in the wake of the proposal that was passed without debate at the recent PAS general assembly: How and why was the proposal passed as one of the ‘non-debated proposals’ in the first place? Why was it not vetted properly and why was it tabled at all? What does this say about PAS's internal cohesion and internal discipline? Does this proposal reflect just a faction of opinion among PAS members, or is it actually representative of the party as a whole? And what does this mean with regards to PAS’s avowed claims to be a modern party that supports the democratisation process and dialogue with others?

It is hard, to say the least, to believe that a party can be supportive of democracy if it starts by calling for the banning of NGOs even before it comes to power…

SIS senior manager Maria Chin Abdullah said the PAS resolution underlined the party’s intolerance and prejudice against the non-governmental organisation, noting it was not even debated in its assembly. While reformists also won in the election, hardliners had a field day sweeping up posts, leaving the moderate voice subdued and cowed.

Many NGO leaders, lawyers and human rights activists who saw a new, moderate and inclusive PAS emerging out of the ashes of its hard-line past, are understandably alarmed.

The Bar Council, for instance, has urged PAS to negotiate and not demand for the banning of SIS simply because they disagree with its views.

But it is the way of wholly religious organisations, here and everywhere else, to be dogmatic and claim to possess the ultimate truth on any issue. Among the three Pakatan allies, PAS is the biggest with a one million membership base and a network that reaches into every village.

PAS is a formidable partner in Pakatan — one that believes its time has arrived to lead the nation.

It is big, strong and confident, and certainly not easily tamed by anyone, Pakatan adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim included.

The alternative is to appease PAS to hold the coalition together — and that’s a dangerous path to travel for secular political parties.

Meanwhile, PAS-ruled state of Kelantan has urged a ban on skimpy outfits in public parks.

"We just want to educate Muslims that they should wear clothes according to Islamic teachings and to the non-Muslims, we encourage them to respect each other in Kelantan," Takiyudin Hasan, the state cabinet minister in charge of local government, tourism and culture said.

Non-Muslim women are to wear tops that have sleeves and which are long enough to cover the waist. Trousers have to be knee-length and there should be no skin-tight outfits.

The local government does not have the legal power to enforce the ban, but previous recommendations it has made, including a ban of heavy make-up and high heels, have been widely obeyed.

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