PAS : Towards Becoming a Village Party

September 21, 2014

PAS : Towards Becoming a Village Party

by Nigel

Hadi3MUKTAMAR As the veils came down yesterday on what could have been a significant 60th PAS muktamar for the Islamic party’s political expansion beyond its traditional east coast heartland, delegates were instead left with the real peril of Pakatan Rakyat’s disintegration that will threaten to undo its electoral inroads.

The historic muktamar, organised for the first time in UMNO’s birthplace of Johor, was intended as a message to BN that its reign since independence is nigh.

Pakatan in the 2013 general election made unprecedented gains in the UMNO fortress, gaining 18 seats in the 56-member state assembly, giving the state a real opposition for the first time.

Johor PAS, with its guns pointed at archrival UMNO, had gone to great lengths at organising the party’s annual general assembly in the state to build on that momentum. But as delegates nationwide descended on Batu Pahat for the three-day muktamar that began last Thursday, they instead had their guns pointed at one another as disagreements over the Selangor crisis boiled over.

PAS went into its muktamar as a divided party over PKR’s bid to replace its once popular Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, with whom it had increasing difficulties working with. PAS leaders generally disapproved of PKR’s move to rock the boat but pro-Pakatan leaders in the Islamic party, most of whom are professionals who wanted to see a quick resolution, were content to go along with PKR’s chosen replacement.

But conservative leaders in the Islamic party led by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang were resistant to PKR’s choice, and eventually even pushed for PAS’ own to vie for the top job. This disagreement had been simmering for the last two months and when the muktamar arrived, it was marred by a walkout, booings, microphone-snatching, a bizarre prayer to bash opponents and countless attacks between pro-Pakatan supporters and conservative supporters.

The situation was so heated that PAS deputy spiritual Harun Din issued a gag order on delegates from further discussing the Selangor crisis and the Islamic party’s internal strife.

Grassroots upset at confusion

While the opposing camps were the most vociferous in their views, most of the other delegates just wanted a proper sense of direction from the top leadership instead of the confused signals the feuding camps were sending over the Selangor crisis.

PAS Perlis delegate Wan Kharizal Wan Khazim best described this agitation among grassroots as he Pas Goonsrelated how the Islamic party’s members were afraid to visit coffee shops since the start of the Selangor crisis.

“Last time our members can go to coffee shops and talk about Umno’s wrongs but when the Selangor crisis started, no one dared to go any more as they don’t know what answer to give when people ask us about it. After Aug 17, they returned to the coffee shops with a smile because they thought they had an answer, but they eventually had to hide themselves again because of the confusion (of subsequent developments). This cannot continue, we need a clear decision,” he said.

After much uncertainty about PAS’ position in the early days of the crisis, the party central committee on August 7 decided to endorse PKR President Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her deputy Azmin Ali as candidates for the Menteri Besar.

Their representatives at the subsequent Pakatan leaders’ meeting that same day agreed with PKR’s stand on submitting just Wan Azizah’s name. However, they were later overruled by Hadi who was supported by the powerful syura council that insisted that the president has veto power.

Wan Khairizal’s appeal did little to help, as leaders of opposing camps in their winding up speeches took shots at each other, though more subtly than their hot-blooded young supporters. PAS central committee member Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, who is also the party’s legal bureau chief, insisted that Hadi and the syura council had overstepped their powers.

Pas LawyerOn the opposing side, acting Dewan Ulama chief Mahfudz Mohamed made it a point to remind delegates that the cleric’s wing was the party’s “Abang Long” (big brother), before quoting scriptures on why the president can overrule the central committee.

Leaders still at odds

Meanwhile, PAS central committee Hatta Ramli dropped an ambiguous ‘praise’ for Hadi stating, “PAS is quite lucky to have a president who carries out his duty without the need of veto power as he can make strong arguments”. He went on to state that people were uncomfortable with veto power in a democracy that promotes inclusiveness.

PAS Vice President Mahfuz Omar, who acknowledged his disagreements with Hadi, related how someone had during a meeting long ago had thrown a crumpled piece of paper at the face of then PAS President Yusuf Rawa.

“Even the one who threw the paper was a cleric,” he said in an apparent swipe at conservatives, adding. “But we are civil in our meetings, we don’t do that.”

And while the opposing leaders failed to provide a clear direction, most if not all at least took pains to cool down the heated situation. “Leave leadership issues to the leaders, don’t try to carry them on your backs or of course you will become dizzy; just relax,” said a jovial vice president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

Sabu MatEven PAS Deputy Pesident Mohamad Sabu, who was the main target of conservatives for his conflicting position with Hadi, joked about the bashing he had received and went on to explain himself in a diplomatic manner peppered with humour.

Towards the near end of the muktamar, the firefighting efforts appeared to be paying off as leaders and supporters seemed prepared to agree to disagree, until Hadi in his final speech broke the reconciliatory mood with his bombshell.

Ignoring the opportunity for ceasefire, Hadi went on to label the two PAS state assembly persons who had unilaterally supported Wan Azizah as “lackeys” (barua) and accused his Pakatan partners of “stealing” and “buying over” them.

He also alluded that Wan Azizah was not chosen as Menteri Besar for her capability or responsibility, warning that PAS members would be condemned to hell if they went ahead with it. The defiant stance suggested Hadi was not prepared to heed several delegate’s call to keep to PAS’ promise that the Selangor menteri besar position belonged to PKR.

No closure

Hadi’s closing speech is unlikely to give closure to confused delegates as even their party secretary-general Mustafa Ali’s response to journalists after the muktamar was just as confused, when asked whether PAS will accept the Menteri Besar position.

“If the position is given to PKR, PAS will support it. But if the position is given to PAS, I don’t want to comment,” he said.

With the PAS muktamar unwilling to make the painful decision on the menteri besar position, which would have put the professionals and conservatives on a collision course in a vote, all eyes are now on the swearing in ceremony of the yet-to-be named Selangor menteri besar on Tuesday.

PASLeaders such as Hanipa had urged a realistic approach at the muktamar, warning that DAP and PKR will not support a PAS menteri besar and may lead to snap polls, but was booed down by party observers. Even PAS vice president Husam Musa pointed out that nine of 15 PAS state seats in Selangor were won with marginal majorities, warning that the Islamic party could lose them without Pakatan’s support.

However, these views were drowned out by conservative leaders who were determined to take a purely religious view, believing that somehow PKR’s choice would not receive, in Hadi’s own words, “Allah’s acceptance”.

Mokthar Senik, a delegate from the Ulama wing, best reflected this school of thought when he declared at the muktamar, “Even if it means waiting for 1,000 years before we achieve victory, we will remain with our struggle based on the Quran.”

But as PAS leaders bicker over differing interpretations of scriptures or pragmatic considerations, the fate of the six-year-old Pakatan coalition is now out of their hands.

Hadi and the muktamar’s clear stance that it will not join forces with UMNO is, announced early on at the muktamar, is unlikely to help.

On Tuesday, the Selangor Sultan will not only decide on the new chief executive officer from either PKR or PAS for his state, but indirectly also the survival of Pakatan as a coalition.If PAS’ candidate is chosen and Hadi remains insistent on the position, it would mark the beginning of a possible disintegration of Pakatan, as its partners will see it as a clear act of betrayal.


Further Reflections on Leadership

September 20, 2014

Further Reflections on Leadership

by Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim Ahmad

THERE are always turning points in individual lives and in the lives of nations. Malaysia is an unfinished work in nation-building and is now at a turning point. History is about continuities and discontinuities with forces of good and bad at work.


What is so often repeated must again be noted in the quote by Edmund Burke, an Irish statesman and British parliamentarian: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

We have many good leaders of substance in all spheres. They tend to be humble and practical, not wanting to be involved in the contest for personal power or egotistical battles.This very humility has led to a situation where outspoken, lesser leaders have hijacked the leadership in public as well as private domains.

At stake are the minds, mindset, spirits and souls of the future generation of Malaysians. With arrogant impunity, so many lesser leaders are taking the vision of nation-building away from great visionary leaders.

With what ideas of nation-building, or nation destruction, and with what xenophobic or universal values are the minds and souls of future generations to be furnished? Left to lesser leaders, we can already draw a compendium of discontinuity on nation-building efforts that we have known for six decades or so. Left to leaders with a touch of greatness, there is still hope for millions of our citizens who want to live in peace, mutual respect and dignity.

There are evil leaders in human history, cultures and civilisations. There is no reason to believe that evil leaders do not exist now. There are evil leaders in the making in our midst.We just have to examine their intentions, articulations, reasoning and actions to know whether they are champions of virtues or evil intentions towards others who are different from them, or, those whom they define as their enemies.

Evil leaders want the following:

THEY want to change society radically;

THEY use ideology, race, religion and language;

THEY have obsequious circles of followers;

THERE is disdain of law and order, but they create their own codes and “laws”;

THEY do not respect others;

THEY are racists, bigoted, extremists or simply sick;

THEY have psychological problems and may be misogynic;

THEY suffer miseducation and are ignorant in significant ways;

THEY can be myopic or with megalomaniac ambitions; and

THEY do not really accept divine teachings.

Pacifists excuse the plans and provocations of evil people by arguing that they are misguided.Eventually, the consequences of evil acts are that the lives of individuals, families and communities are destroyed in the name of some ideology or belief. Such “misguided” actions by the Ku Klux Klan and others for ethnic or religious cleansing can then be excused.

It is a paradox that as more and more people have education and freedom of expression, more and more people will emerge as toxic leaders with the potential to do evil when they have power and opportunity to oppress others.

Society has the responsibility to provide the young with examples of good role models, who are revered not only by their own communities, but also by people from different societies. This may not only be current, but also in history.

Nelson-Mandela-QuoteWhen Nelson Mandela died, the world mourned. When Mahatma Gandhi and John F. Kennedy were assassinated, the world empathised; when Mao Tze Tung and Ho Chi Minh were gone, people honoured them.However, except for a close circle of followers over the years, who has mourned Adolf Hitler, Ku Klux Klan leaders, Pol Pot and others who were involved in ethnic cleansing, ideological purgatory and religious persecution?

It is time that the media projects a kinder, gentler Malaysia, with credible people who love their children and care for their neighbours’ children; who practise the true teachings of religion; who learn the best of lessons about humanity in schools and the marketplace; and cherish the positive values of sacrifice, humility, magnanimity, respect, truthfulness, piety, justice, peace, equality, freedom and beauty.

Politics and political manipulation, or inertia, will continue to play the decisive tipping-point role. However, civil society, communities, families and parents can share with the young their knowledge and experience of “good people” with integrity from among family and community members, as opposed to those who are corrupt in ambition and in ways and means of achieving self-interest and egotistical journeys.

Society has a responsibility towards the successive generations to sensitise them to the realities of various kinds of leaders, including good as well as toxic and evil leaders.

Whither Malaysia, asks Balan Moses

September 19, 2014

Whither Malaysia, asks Balan Moses

Balan-Moses-ENG NEW-1The 51st Malaysia Day came and went, and life as we know it in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak continued without much change. It has been pretty much the same for decades with little achieved by way of emotional attachment between the two parts of the country separated by nearly 1,000 miles of sea.

While a large number of East Malaysians work and study in the peninsular, the same may not be said about Orang Semenanjung working and studying in Sabah or Sarawak. I know of students from the peninsular studying at universities in Sabah and Sarawak but am not sure of their overall numbers. I also know of members of the uniformed forces from Sabah and Sarawak stationed here.

I made my first acquaintance with Sarawakians in the mid-70s at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang where they proved to be a friendly but sometimes rambunctious lot, especially after a few drinks. They generally wore their emotions on their sleeves and what you saw was what you got.

Malaysia2After learning about them in geography at school and from stamps in the early and mid 60s, it was refreshing to meet some of them in person and know more about their culture and traditions.Malaysians in the Peninsular in general still don’t know much about their brethren in Sabah and Sarawak and vice versa with the same ignorance and prejudice that existed decades ago still prevalent on both sides.

The Semenanjung Malaysians still at large look at Sabahans and Sarawakians as distant cousins best kept at arm’s length, a sentiment probably stronger in the two states across the South China Sea with the traditional suspicion of “Orang Malaya” still very much alive and kicking.

The fear that Peninsular folk will change the East Malaysian way of life due to their numerical superiority, stronger finances and an arguably better knowledge of the twists and turns of life still persists. The safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak contained in the points of agreement between Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak is testimony to the 51 year old fact that that Sabahans and Sarawakians have always felt the need to be protected from us across the pond.

I would like to talk about the possible reasons for the formation of Malaysia in 1963 by leaders from Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.I will not go into Singapore’s exit from Malaysia in 1965 as that is a topic to be elaborated upon in a future column.

First Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, probably foresaw the advantages that Malaya would accrueTunku Abdul Rahman from a merger of North Borneo, Sarawak, Brunei and Singapore with their relative strengths in terms of population and natural resources.

Sabah and Sarawak would have been on the radar of both Indonesia and Philippines prior to the formation of Malaysia as later events would prove true.Tunku, the great statesman and visionary that he was, would have seen the possibility of the larger neighbours eyeing the huge tracts of land in Borneo at some point and pre-empted them with his Malaysia proposal.

That it was taken up by the majority of Sabahans and Sarawakians was proof that their sympathies lay with Malaysia with their common British heritage and not with the Philippines with its Spanish legacy or Indonesia with its Dutch colonial background.

Why then is there limited assimilation among West and East Malaysians? Is this by accident or design? The very fact that Sabahans and Sarawakians asked for and received special privileges at the formation of Malaysia is probably proof that they wanted safeguards for the long term to preserve their way of life and practices.

Can we expect this to remain for the foreseeable future?Yes. This is a distinct possibility as East Malaysian politicians by and large agree that they want to rule their land through home-grown political parties although UMNO has anchored itself in Sabah. Sarawak is a different kettle of fish as the people of the Land of the Hornbill have always jealously guarded their relative independence by supporting indigenous political parties. The exception would be the DAP which has won several seats in the state largely through Chinese support.

So where does this leave Malaysia in its 51st year? Probably where it has been for some time now with the cracks in the political and cultural mosaic intact for years to come. The large number of East Malaysians in the peninsular, however, engenders greater assimilation with the Orang Malaya with more intermarriage bringing both parts of Malaysia closer.

I, for one, would like to speed up the process with greater interaction despite the daunting distance between us. How shall we take this off?

The People of Scotland vote to stay in the United Kingdom

September 19, 2014

Congratulations:The People of Scotland vote to stay in the United Kingdom

Prime Minister David Cameron said devolution promises will be met. Now it is the time for the United Kingdom to come together, he added. The Scotland referendum shows that given goodwill and enlightened leadership, all problems, small and large, can be resolved peacefully through negotiations.  Please listen to Prime Minister Cameron’s speech at 10 Downing Street following the decision of the brave and proud people of Scotland to stay in the Union under Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

May we in Malaysia learn from this experience and stop all talk of Sabah and Sarawak leaving Malaysia. Let us stay united and focused on building a truly United and Free Malaysia under DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di-Pertuan Agong in accordance with our National Constitution.–Din Merican

i love malaysia

Malaysia is not a Theocratic State

September 18, 2014

Hadi, Harun Din still don’t get it: Malaysia is not a Theocratic State

COMMENTARY by The Malaysian Insider

Malaysia is not a theocracy and never will be one. And the sooner, the PAS hardliners understand that reality, the better for all.The problem is, of course, they don’t seem to get it.

Nik Aziz and Hadi AwangThe PAS Dewan Ulama believes that its vision of an Islamic state will be acceptable to all. It wasn’t acceptable in 1951 when the clerics left UMNO before Malaya achieved Merdeka and it still isn’t acceptable in 2014 when Malaya together with Sabah and Sarawak now make up Malaysia.

And if that doesn’t even impress the conservative puritans who form the Dewan Ulama, how about this fact: PAS has yet to win a state or federal seat in Sabah or Sarawak until now.

And by the looks of its actions in the Selangor Menteri Besar impasse, the Islamist party might even lose more seats in the country’s wealthiest state where the multiracial and multifaith electorate choose their lawmakers on policy, not faith.

Also, the most dangerous theme running through the party is that the cleric class cannot be criticised. This is akin to putting some really flawed individuals on a pedestal reserved for the Almighty.They can’t be criticised by their own members nor can they be criticised by their allies. When did it come to this, that thin-skinned clerics run a party without question? Is this a political party or one of scholars who think they have a heavenly mandate?

We have been making too many excuses for PAS for too long. Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat is an aberration.Harun Din The likes of Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Datuk Harun Din are the norm and till today none of the PAS leadership have condemned the barbaric beheading by Isis.

Instead, they collected money for one Malaysian fighter who died in the Middle East despite him having been sacked from PAS. And they now dub him a martyr.

The PAS clerics must know that most, if not all, Malaysians want a country that is for all, not for the select few. Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy and has been since 1963, and before that Malaya since 1957.

Malaysia isn’t a theocratic state and will never be a theocracy. Any attempt or effort to push that will only shrink PAS’s influence and support in Malaysia. It happened in Terengganu where PAS was a one-term government between 1999 and 2004, and it happened in Kedah between 2008 and 2013. The PAS hardliners must learn from history that their vision for Malaysia will not ever happen. – September 17, 2014.

Mariam Mokhtar’s Take on Mahathir and The Malays

September 17, 2014

Mariam Mokhtar’s Take on Mahathir and The Malays

by Mariam

The Malays will be around, with or without UMNO Baru, but the converse does not hold true. Malays do not need UMNO Baru, but if UMNO Baru were to lose the support of ordinary Malays, the party would cease to exist. Without UMNO Baru, the Malays would thrive. UMNO Baru is like a poison to the Malays. Day in, day out they are inundated with the emotional baggage of race, religion and royalty.

Dr.MahathirDid the Malays let him down?

The outburst last week by former PM Mahathir Mohamad should be considered a betrayal. Mahathir rewards the people on whose backs he rose to absolute power by insulting them. He pushed affirmative action policies, which slowly eroded Malaysia. Behind the backs of ordinary Malays, Mahathir handsomely rewarded select Malays and non-Malays, whom he deemed worthy of his favours. He killed off the aspirations of many generations of Malaysians. Disillusioned by the lack of leadership many left, never to return.

As a doctor, he should have realised the dangers of making the wrong diagnosis. Remember the story about the man who consulted many doctors about his terrible headaches. Eventually, one surgeon said that he could cure the problem; but the remedy was an orchidectomy.

Unable to bear the pain, this man underwent the surgery. He was delighted that his pain was gone. To celebrate the freedom from pain, he decided to buy a new suit. The tailor asked him on which side he “dressed”. The man said he had never given it any thought and asked if it was important. The tailor said it was of paramount importance; if the trousers were not cut correctly, it could cause terrible headaches.

The analogy with Malaysia is similar. Malaysian problems have been misdiagnosed and the wrong treatment has been prescribed. After decades of manipulating Malaysians, dividing the various ethnic groups and rewarding only those from his inner circle, Mahathir turned on Malaysians, in particular the Malays, and called them lazy, dishonest, cheats, liars and Mat Rempits. Mahathir forgot the provisos. Most of the Malays he refers to are UMNO Baru Malays, and the opportunists who are found in every racial grouping.

Mat Rempits2The Mat Rempits

There are millions of Malays who are hard-working, honest, loyal and law-abiding. Like many of their non-Malay peers, ordinary Malays may not have access to the resources needed to succeed. Malaysians are hampered and crippled by the UMNO Baru Malays, many of whom occupy positions of authority, and dictate what can, or cannot be done.

They say that timing is everything in politics. Why did Mahathir insult the Malays in the week before we celebrate Malaysia Day? Was he trying to undermine the reputation of his hand-picked successor, Najib Abdul Razak? He need not bother. Najib has little credibility left.

If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, Mahathir is “upset” that his cronies are losing out on their share of the rich pickings, which are currently being enjoyed by Najib’s cronies.

Is Mahathir angry that his legacy will be forgotten? Is he concerned that many ordinary Malays are beginning to realise that they do not need the crutches of the New Economic Policy (NEP)? Is he angry that time is running out for Mukhriz to win the most coveted prize in Malaysian politics – the Prime Ministership? Is he disturbed that Malays are ignoring racist and religious rhetoric, and joining the exodus to work and live abroad?

What about the large-scale plunder of Malaysia? Mahathir said that some Malays were stealing from his company, ‘The Loaf’. What about the large-scale plunder of Malaysia by UMNO Baru, BN and their cronies, including those from MCA and MIC? The true purpose of UMNO Baru is to prolong the political life of its leaders. With political power comes the ability to squander the wealth of the nation.

The employees of ‘The Loaf’ should be rewarded. They are following the example of UMNO Baru. Most industrialists know that when employees steal, there is something seriously wrong with the management of the company. How were the people who allegedly stole from ‘The Loaf’ punished? Were they arrested, charged and punished by the courts? Malaysians are angry that many multi-billion ringgit government projects, built with taxpayers’ money have failed. Incredibly, no one has been punished.

In Malaysia, many murderers are not made to account for their crimes. The murderers of political aide Teoh Beng Hock, car salesman A Kugan, and teenager Aminulrasyid Amzah, to name but a few.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

When Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah challenged Mahathir in 1987 for alleged vote rigging in the UMNO internal elections, the High Court declared UMNO an illegal party. Mahathir was humiliated and exacted his revenge on the Judiciary. He could have been brought down, but the Opposition were in disarray and probably caught by surprise.

Over the past 20 years, several ordinary Malaysians have accused Mahathir and UMNO Baru of destroying the nation; but these people were branded ungrateful, traitors and even apostates. Some received hate mail, death threats and were accused of being in the pay of the opposition, or the communists.

After Mahathir’s outburst against the Malays, the diehard defenders of Mahathir and UMNO Baru supporters, are silent. Did his remarks find their mark? Or did they feel numbed by his betrayal? Mahathir’s latest attack against the Malays is a paradox. He calls Malays lazy, then says that the NEP should continue and that Malays should take advantage of this affirmative action policy.

Mahathir introduced a culture of fear in Malaysians. Look at how Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is emulating Mahathir, and silencing any who disagrees with the government. The Sedition Act is being used to try to cripple the opposition and teach the rakyat a lesson.

Mahathir is wrong about the Malays. One man, Najib, has chosen to ignore Mahathir. That does not mean that all Malays are lazy, or liars, or cheats. The Internet, which Mahathir would love to ban, has opened up Malay minds and brought all Malaysians together. Malaysians have one common enemy. A repressive government! Perhaps that is why Mahathir is scared and feels betrayed by modern Malaysians. In a sense, we have all failed him. We have failed to become his mindless slaves. Yes, we are the recalcitrant children of Mahathir!