On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Unfair of PAS to reject Kongsi Raya do

The Federal Constitution also clearly stipulates the
right of the Chinese community to practise their traditions. Moreover, the
school authorities, under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry, had given
the nod for the gathering to be held at SK Sultan Sulaiman I.

Hadi, the hardliner of the Islamist party, had given three reasons for refusing
to approve the gathering – the open house would be held during prayer time, the
venue was not appropriate for entertainment purposes, and that women performers
would be involved.

Malaysians can understand and appreciate Hadi's reservations on the timing of
the gathering. However, the organisers had said it would not start until

In fact, the unwritten rule for many event organisers, even in Kuala Lumpur, is
to begin functions at 8.30pm to allow Muslims to perform their prayers. Such
sensitivity should rightly be observed.

But, as Culture, Tourism and Arts Minister Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Fadzir
said, Chinese guests could eat first if they wanted to. I believe the Chinese
guests at the Terengganu gathering were polite enough to wait for their Muslim

What I cannot fathom is Hadi's fuss over the gathering's entertainment
programme. Husband-and-wife team Yusry and Erra Fazira are highly regarded for
their wholesome family act. Female singer Bienda, for example, is probably
among the few Malay artistes who wear the tudung.

Surely he has no quarrel with the Alleycats, probably the only non-Malay band
singing Malay songs and comprising singers who are now in their 50s.

Taking into account the conservative setting of the east coast state, the
organisers had included nasyid groups and a Chinese orchestra.

Hadi had said the ministry's application to the Kuala Terengganu Municipal Council
did not comply with the provisions of the Entertainment and Places of
Entertainment Enactment 2002.

Although he did not specify which provision, it is learnt that the enactment,
which was passed by the PAS state government, forbids women artistes from
performing in public places – even for cultural dances.

Last year, organisers of a Deepavali gathering landed in hot soup when they
included a traditional Indian dance by male and female performers. Then, the
Kuala Terengganu MCA earned the wrath of Hadi when they wanted to hold a social
dance for senior citizens.

The latest objection by PAS is another reflection of how intolerant its leaders
can be towards the political, cultural and religious rights of minorities
despite professing to protect them if the party were to form the next federal

In fact, PAS leaders, including its spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat,
even defended the Taliban when they blew up the largest free-standing statue of
Buddha in Afghanistan.

In the name of religion, PAS leaders would remove every layer of democratic
process in Malaysia by labelling its opponents as "infidels and Jews" while
non-Muslims who speak up would be told they lack the credentials to speak about
the party because they have no knowledge of Islam.

This tactic has long been used by PAS to intimidate its opponents and those
without the courage and stamina to fight its leaders from shoving down the
throats of moderate Malaysians their own interpretations of Islam.

Equally disturbing is the continuing silence of non-Muslim leaders in Parti
Keadilan Nasional, which is bent on helping PAS wrest power. Never mind if they
only get the crumbs by becoming a junior partner in the ruling coalition.

Where are the outspoken non-Muslim Keadilan leaders who dare to challenge the
Federal Reserve Unit police at demonstrations but remain timid when PAS leaders
trample on the rights of moderate Malaysians?