In the recently concluded PAS’ party election, it was obvious that the more liberal and pro-Anwar group lost out badly to the more conservative group, led by its own President Hadi Awang and his faithful deputy Datuk Nasaruddin. Even before the party election, Hadi Awang and his faithful followers have been openly talking about unity government and also muzakarah or what we call dialogue between PAS and UMNO. It evoked a strong response from Nik Aziz, the MB of Kelantan who thought it was a stupid idea and mere rubbish.
Of the 3 parties in PR, PAS is the most well organized with the most number of members. It is also the only party with considerable experience running a state in Kelantan. Till this day, Keadilan and DAP do not have much of a party organization to speak of and virtually no experience in running a state government. Hence, strictly speaking, PAS is the ‘taiko’ in PR. Its state EXCOs do function as the party in power in the 4 states. As for DAP and Keadilan, most of the EXCOs behave as if they are still in the opposition.
When PAS leader talk about unity government and muzakarah between UMNO and PAS, it is obvious that DAP and Keadilan feels very uncomfortable having suddenly been notified that PAS have been talking about Malay and Muslim agenda with UMNO. This have not gone down well with DAP and Keadilan since both claimed to champion policies that go beyond the racial line.
On Sunday night, while officiating a function in Muar, I was asked about the proposed dialogue between UMNO and PAS. My response was that the time has come that parties from both the political divide should reduce politicking and that it is a good idea to sit down to have a dialogue for the bigger picture of national interest and the interest of the rakyat. Confrontational politics will not do the nation, its people and the political parties any good. However, I felt that if PAS and UMNO only talk about Malay and Muslim interests, then it will be unfair to the Non-Muslims and the Non-Malays. There are many common denominators that political parties can talk about. That can form the basis of any form of dialogue and need not necessarily confined to a particular race and religion. Irrespective of race and religion, all Malaysians are confronted with a lot of common issues. This may be a good starting point for a mutually beneficial dialogue so that either party will have a better understanding of each other. We seek common values and objectives to work on rather than be confrontational.
Imagine a situation where UMNO and PAS decides to form the government, then the role of the non-Malays and the non-Muslims will just be observer or opposition. This will not be healthy for the nation in the long run. Maybe PAS by talking about having dialogue with UMNO and posturing itself as a non-racial party, hopes to get votes from the Malays and the non-Malays. On the other hand, UMNO felt that by doing so, it acts as the big brother who always champions the Malays and the Muslims. If UMNO is accused of doing things without consulting its component parties, then it is obvious from the paper that PAS has not bothered to consult Keadilan or DAP in its proposal to have dialogue with UMNO.
Meanwhile, PAS’ general assembly has generated some rather controversial resolutions. One of its resolutions was to call for the banning of the Sisters in Islam (SIS) purportedly its teaching is against Islam. I had the opportunity to listen to talk given by one of the leaders of SIS and I left impressed by their enlightened views of Islam and other religions. I was thinking that if all Muslim leaders behave or have thoughts or attitude like leaders in SIS, then it will definitely foster greater religious harmony between the non-Muslims and the Muslims. The conservative in PAS who won big in the election must have felt uncomfortable with the liberal views of the SIS. The non-Muslims should not forget the long-term political agenda of the conservative leaders in PAS. I have said this many times in my blog and I will not repeat myself.