PAS, he believed, would accept the practical side of modern life once they form the next government.
On a trip to the east coast recently to promote mak yong and wayang kulit, he faced the harsh realities.
PAS supporters roughed him out, telling
him that these cultural practices were
He is said to have had second thoughts
about PAS since then, although he still believes that reforms are
Like some English-educated middle-class
voters who have never established any contacts with PAS, he was attracted to the calls for justice and human rights by PAS.
PAS, convinced that it will form the
next federal government with the backing
of Parti Keadilan Nasional, DAP and PRM, has now openly talked about its plans to govern the country.
In its attempts to set up an Islamic state, PAS leaders are talking about
banning the sale of liqour and gaming
On Wednesday, PAS deputy president Abdul
Hadi Awang went a step further he said the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange would be banned.
Before this, PAS spiritual adviser and Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Nik
Aziz Nik Mat proposed that women should not work.
He also justified the party's stand to
bar women from contesting in elections, saying it was to protect and uphold their dignity.
Party president Datuk Fadzil Noor also
ruffled feathers with his remarks
linking pigs with the family name of Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
It is normal for politicians to claim
they have been misquoted by the press.
This was what Fadzil did about his
But even before that, the party had already shown how insensitive it could be.
In a recent edition of Harakah, a PAS
youth leader criticised Umno for making
too many compromises with other Barisan
Nasional component parties over the viral encephalitis issue.
In the April 1 issue of Detik, which
carries the tagline Suara Reformasi
Rakyat, the magazine published a full
page write-up under the heading Mahathir Pelindung Cina, questioning the
ethnic loyalty of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The newly launched magazine is run by
writers who are known to be openly
supportive of PAS in their
While what they write may not
necessarily reflect the party's official line, it provides an insight
into the difficulties for parties
like DAP and Keadilan to work with PAS.
PAS leaders seem to have persistently ignored the realities and complexities of multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia, preferring to make
judgments from their narrow political interpretations.
Ideological differences would be the
biggest obstacle to an opposition coalition and, even if such a front is formed, it will be PAS that will call the shots.
At this point, the opposition parties have announced that PAS will contest in predominantly Malay areas, the DAP in non-Malay areas and Keadilan in mixed constituencies.
There are only so many mixed areas to go
in the 192 seats in the Dewan
If the opposition challenge to the
Barisan Nasional is of any consequence, it will be Keadilan, DAP and PRM that will deliver the votes to PAS to form the federal government.
If former Parti Melayu Semangat 46 president Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had problems grappling with PAS, it is doubtful whether Keadilan president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her deputy Dr Chandra Muzaffar are capable of reaching an understanding with its
It will be even more difficult for DAP
secretary-general Lim Kit Siang to do
so, considering the emerging unhappiness
among his members over the party's
unofficial ties with PAS.
Surely, the DAP is aware of the
sentiments of moderate Malaysians over some of the unorthodox pronouncements of PAS.
Perhaps for this reason, DAP deputy
secretary-general Chong Eng decided to
put on record the party's unhappiness
over Fadzil's remark.
In a nutshell, PAS wants to set up an
Islamic state, Keadilan wants Anwar
installed as prime minister, the DAP
wants to win non-Malay seats and the PRM
hopes to make its debut in
Keadilan has, without spelling out the
details, told its non-Muslim listeners
that it wants a fairer distribution of wealth among Malaysians.
But it still wants the New Economic Policy and the special privileges of Malays
to remain as it realises the importance of securing Malay votes.
That is the bottom line of the entire affair.
Any political party, including the communist party will tell its people that it is fighting for justice.
We should not be so naive as to draw a
distinction between the good and bad
guys in Malaysian politics.
PAS politicians, with their dressing, may look pious but at the end of the day, they are still politicians.
We must admit that there are flaws in
our system but it is a workable system.
Call it reform, renewal and change,
whatever, but we all understand that we
must take bold steps to improve
The world is opening up and so must we.
A whole new generation has grown up
demanding changes and we must be
sensitive to its calls to stay relevant
in the next millenium.
Status quo is not a dirty word. Neither
is reform. But we must never dismantle a
parliamentary system that has worked
We can have a European-styled
proportional voting system or the
British-inherited “first past the
post'' voting system but the ballot
box remains the answer to political
Those who advocate political change must
ask whether they want to instal a PAS
government which has no blueprint of
what the party wants to do to administer
a modern and complex Malaysia.
Wine, working mothers, gaming and beauty
contests may seem superficial and trivial when compared to more lofty ideals
like human rights and justice but they
are, nevertheless, issues close to
the people's hearts.
After all, the daily cultural practices of Malaysians are more relevant at the
end of the day.
Anwar has yet to join PAS or Keadilan
until now, setting off speculation that
he, perhaps, still harbours hopes of
rejoining Umno; a party that will make a