On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Radicals put region in jeopardy

A few PAS leaders have said that they do not condone the
actions of these radicals, but most of the party leaders have chosen to remain

The MP for Sik, Shahnon Ahmad, went a step further in dismissing the KMM issue
as a creation of the Government and press. His statements would probably get
nods of approval from critics except that the similar cynical remark was used
at the height of the Al Maunah arrests.

Over the past one week, the party has gone on the offensive, lodging police
reports against government leaders and threatening legal action. These actions
were taken in the wake of press reports that the militants have infiltrated
religious groups in universities, where students were given hate lessons.

Lee's uneasiness of the growing threat of Islamic militancy and the increasing
clout of PAS is a clear indication how wrong signals have been sent to the
region. It does not augur well for Malaysia, politically or economically, that
PAS is getting stronger.

Singapore's PAP leaders have made no secret that they would rather deal with
Umno. It is not because Umno is weaker, as PAS president datuk Fadzil Noor has
chosen to believe.

PAS leaders may be strong in religious matters, but they have no track record
in modern economics and management. A Barisan Nasional government is guaranteed
to be multi-racial while a PAS government would only comprise Muslims.

Non-Muslim supporters of PAS, who fall into the Islamist party's PR exercise in
Kelantan and Terengganu, often returned gleefully that both states have temples
and churches and even bah kut teh stalls. But they miss the point – all these
are available in other states. More importantly, other states have non-Muslim
and women leaders in government, but not in these two PAS-run states.

Many leaders in this region are wary of the "loose cannons" in PAS,
who often make controversial pronouncements that also affect the civil
liberties of non-Muslims. Asean leaders would certainly be mindful of having
such orthodox leaders as their neighbours, especially when PAS leaders are
likely to be supportive of the activities of insurgents in their

Lee has warned that the region must be on alert for a growing
"anti-Zion" crusade spawned by fighting in Afghanistan, where many
Muslim volunteers had taken up arms and undergone training.

At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur last week, Lee said "it has become a
kind of internationalised anti-crusade and anti-Zion" and that such
Islamic militancy has grown in Indonesia and Pakistan, too.

"You have to watch it carefully, because if it takes root in Indonesia and
they go up to the islands south of us, or if they take root in Malaysia and
come down to Johor, then we are vulnerable."

He said the recent rise in Islamic militancy in Indonesia started when
Vice-President B.J. Ha-bibie cancelled a decree imposed by former President
Suharto, outlawing the use of Islam or Islamic symbols for political parties.
As a result, more than 20 political parties used Islamic symbols, and several
splinter groups eventually won in elections.

Malaysians have no business in the internal squabbles of Indonesia. In the name
of religion, Malaysians have gone to Indonesia to fight there. The KMM, for
example, has returned home to commit robbery and the murder of a Barisan state

Lee isn't the only one alarmed by the rise in such political radicalism. So,
too, are moderate Malaysians of all faiths.

It is sad for Malaysians to note that Parti Keadilan Nasional and Parti Rakyat
Malaysia have a lack-lustre attitude towards the KMM issue, perhaps worrying
they might antagonise opposition voters.

But political expediency should not be allowed to cloud their positions. The
background of Keadilan and PRM is not in tune with that of PAS although they
have a common enemy in BN.

They should not allow militancy to creep into Malaysian politics, and they
cannot assume that students who have been instilled in radicalism will support
Keadilan or PRM.

Political differences we may have, but moderate Malaysians must never allow
such radicalism and extremism to take root in their homeland.