In Kelantan, Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat announced a Chinese-Muslim
as a state executive councillor.
These are clever public relations moves
by PAS in its effort to project a gentler and multi-ethnic image.
With their flowing robes and serbans, PAS leaders and their fiery speeches have never gone down well with non-Muslims. Their brand of politics is seen as conservative and
untolerable of the liberal lifestyle.
The DAP and PAS, meanwhile, have
continued to hold forums to allow
non-Muslims to hear the views of PAS
It is not something new. Years ago, PAS
held similar meetings with
During these meetings, participants queried PAS leaders on such matters as women wearing mini skirts, playing
mahjong and drinking alcohol in pubs. They were
asked whether non-Muslims had a
role in government.
PAS and DAP have said that they are
holding these forums to debunk the fears created by Barisan Nasional, especially MCA and Gerakan, to
project the two parties as extremist and
Leaders from these two parties like to
think the Chinese voters swung against
Barisan Alternatif because they supposedly
fell prey to MCA and Gerakan
propaganda of PAS' intention to set up
an Islamic state.
Politicians, irrespective of their
beliefs, will not admit their faults.
The fact is that most Chinese voters do not trust PAS.
And they registered their unhappiness against DAP for working with PAS and the reformasi movement.
PAS and DAP are now carrying out damage
control. Their early start may, in fact,
pay off in the next elections.
Without doubt, the PAS-DAP forums would enable PAS leaders to interact with more non-Muslims and listen to their views.
PAS realises that no political party can
win the general election on its own. But
the question is whether PAS is prepared
to be more secular and liberal to win
the backing of non-Muslims.
The Chinese and Indian votes will
continue to be decisive in future general elections.
But PAS must be consistent. Their
objection against the Israeli team
taking part in the World Table Tennis tournament will not win them votes.
There is no logic in their argument that the team cannot enter Malaysia because there is no diplomatic
If we accept the PAS logic, then
Taiwanese have no business in Malaysia since we have no diplomatic links with Taipei. Despite their hostility, Iran reportedly sent its soccer team to the United States recently.
If Malaysia is serious about hosting world sporting events, we cannot allow
such archaic sentiments to
PAS also made a fuss of the presence of a US aircraft carrier in Port Klang because it was purportedly
nuclear-powered. Being nuclear-powered does not mean carrying nuclear
It was a case of getting worked up over
nothing or choosing to ignore certain facts. Nuclear energy was merely used as a source to propel the ship.
This is not the first time PAS is
confused over matters. Last week,
PAS MPs created a ruckus over the
millennium celebrations in Parliament, making it sound as if
holding a party is an unpardonable
Before that, a PAS MP complained about the Government staging the Formula One race, suggesting that
it would promote vice.
Barisan Alternatif, especially PAS, has
argued for a liberal and open
government. But it needs to show its
Even in Iran, the people have voiced
their unhappiness against fundamentalism
and extremism in the name of
The victory of the reformists in Iran's
parliamentary election proves that
Iranians can no longer tolerate living
under an administration which does not tolerate liberalism.
PAS leaders are still fundamentalists. They are certainly not reformers nor
liberals. They may have made some minor
consessions for non-Muslims, which in itself is important, but they must
Non-Muslims will want to examine PAS policies from a broader point
beyond politics, including
whether the party is capable of
facing the challenges of a modern