On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

PAS needs to try harder in wooing non-Malays

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
try  harder.

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