Monday, March 3, 2008

Resurrecting the dead

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Malaysia Today
Resurrecting the dead


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PAS is contesting only 60 Parliament seats. They need 150 seats to control two-thirds of Parliament. PAS cannot implement Islamic laws even if they control two-thirds of the seats in the State Assembly without controlling two-thirds of Parliament.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
�I do not want to send you to jail,� said the judge as he stared at me like he was trying to burn a hole right through my chest. �But I have to.�

�I plead leniency your honour,� was the only response I could come up with in such short notice. �I am, after all, a first-time offender,� I added, hoping that that would 'melt' him a bit.

�It's not that I want to punish you,� the judge replied without flinching and with the same cold stare. �Sending you to jail is not about punishing you. It is about protecting society from people like you. You may be a first-time offender, but what is there to guarantee you will not do it again? Society needs to be protected and that's why I have to send you to jail. If I thought you are repentant then I could give you a suspended sentence and bound you over for good conduct. But thus far you have not even said sorry for what you have done or promised never to do it again.�

I saw this as an escape clause and quickly jumped in. �But I regret what I had done, your honour, and I promise never to do it again. I now realise my mistake.�

�Hah, a leopard never changes its spots. If you did it once how would I know you will not do it again? Sure, you can always say you are sorry and that you regret what you did. But I am not too sure if I were to release you that you would keep your word.�

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No, I did not really go to court. And, no, I was not sent to jail. In fact, the entire dialogue above never happened. I just put that in to dramatise what the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) must be going through in the ongoing 'trial'. For eight years, the Chinese in particular and the non-Malays in general, have been screaming about the Islamic State Document (ISD) that PAS introduced in Terengganu not long after the Tenth General Election in 1999. Actually, long before PAS did that in Terengganu, they had done the same in Kelantan about eight or nine years earlier. But the ISD that PAS launched in Kelantan not long after the 1990 general election and the one launched in Terengganu not long after the 1999 general election both went nowhere. And PAS knew they would get nowhere with it.

Why in heaven's name did they launch them then? This would probably be what many of you would now be asking. Well, it's simple, really. PAS is an Islamic party and it is therefore their 'duty' to launch the ISD. What else would you have expected PAS to do? I would be very surprised if they had NOT launched them.
But PAS had only 27 Parliamentary seats in 1999 and even less in 1990. They would need at least 150 seats to control two-thirds of Parliament before they can implement the ISD and change Malaysia from a Secular State to an Islamic State.

Okay, PAS controlled Kelantan in 1990 and Terengganu in 1999. Maybe PAS did not, on both those occasions, have 150 seats in Parliament or controlled two-thirds of Parliament. But they did, in 1990, control two-thirds of the seats in the Kelantan State Assembly in and, in 1999, in the Terengganu State Assembly. So the ISD could have been implemented in these two states even though PAS would not have been able to do so at Federal level. Why, then, did PAS not do so at state level?
PAS could not do so at state level because, to make constitutional changes at state level, you require the approval of Parliament and PAS did not have 150 seats in Parliament or control two-thirds of Parliament. But this should still not stop PAS from 'pushing' the issue. Whether PAS does or does not control Parliament is not the issue. PAS' job is deliver its election promise -- the implementation of Islam -- and then leave it to Parliament to sort the whole thing out.

We must remember, PAS was under pressure. Umno was calling PAS a liar. UMNO was accusing PAS of cheating the voters by not delivering its election promise. The simple-minded village folks (orang kampong) are not able to rationalise issues the way we can. These people would swallow the Umno propaganda hook, line and sinker. �PAS bohong! PAS tipu! Sebelum pilihan raya janji Islam. Bila sudah menang pilihan raya diam, tak buat.�

PAS had to show that it delivers its election promises, or at least try to deliver even if it does not have the power to do so. We promise, we deliver. If Barisan Nasional blocks it at Federal level because they control more than two-thirds of parliament, then PAS can't be blamed for that.

PAS' job is to try to deliver what it had been mandated to do by the voters who voted for it. And PAS did just that. So it fulfilled its election promise. But Malaysia still remained a Secular State as everyone thought it would, PAS included. That is not PAS' fault though. That was Barisan Nasional's fault. So Barisan Nasional is the chow lang in the eyes of the Malay voters, not PAS.

When Umno challenged PAS to 'deliver its election promise', it did not think that PAS would actually do it. This is because PAS can't act alone but must act in the spirit of the opposition coalition, then called Barisan Alternatif. Umno was calling PAS' bluff. Then, when PAS fails to deliver, Umno can turn around and call PAS a liar and a cheat. Janji tapi tak buat.

Umno was in fact caught off-guard when PAS 'accepted' Umno's challenge and announced the launching of the ISD. Not only Umno was caught of-guard but the other three members of Barisan Alternatif as well -- DAP, PKN (now PKR) and PRM (now merged with PKN into PKR). DAP, PKN and PRM did not agree with the ISD and told PAS so. DAP even left Barisan Alternatif in a huff.

Umno realised that challenging PAS was a mistake. It thought the challenge was safe because surely PAS would not act alone and DAP, PKN and PRM would object strongly to the ISD. But PAS did act alone in spite of the protests from DAP, PKN and PRM. PAS had no choice, really. It was being challenged by the other Malay-dominant party and was being called a liar and a cheat. Either it faced Umno and accepted the challenge or else PAS would become irrelevant and might as well close down just like Semangat 46 before that.

Now it was Umno that was in a bind. Umno never for one minute suspected that PAS would put the opposition coalition in jeopardy by going against the wishes of the other three coalition members. But PAS did and the coalition practically broke up (hidup segan, mati tak mahu). PAS, however, managed to redeem itself in the eyes of the Malays. And Umno responded by hurriedly declaring, on 19 September 2001, that Malaysia is already an Islamic country, so why do we need PAS? PAS can only promise. It does not control two-thirds of Parliament so it can't deliver. Umno, however, through Barisan Nasional, does control two-thirds of Parliament. So Umno does not need to 'promise' like PAS does. Umno can deliver. So Umno, in a way, became Malaysia's new Islamic party, dislodging PAS from that perch.

Many may have not noticed this, but since the 2004 general election, when PAS lost Terengganu, almost lost Kelantan, and saw its 27 Parliament seats reduced to just nine, PAS has stopped talking about the ISD. DAP knows this. Talk to people like Ronnie Liu. He can tell you that PAS wants to treat the ISD as an embarrassing mistake that should be buried in the past and allowed to remain buried. But people would not allow it to remain buried. They kept resurrecting the ISD issue even though PAS themselves, those who gave birth to it, would like it to remain buried. It was no longer PAS that was talking about the ISD. It was those who would like this stigma to hang over the head of what could be the most successful and powerful opposition party.

Okay, PAS made a mistake in the past. They have learned from this mistake. But do we want to keep harping on the past? How far back into the past should we go? Is there any cut-off date? Should we continue killing every Japanese we see in Malaysia because of what they did to us during the Second World War? In 1834, the Chinese in Lukut massacred Raja Busu and his entire family plus hundreds of Malays. Raja Busu was a member of the Selangor Royal Family. Should I still hold that against the Chinese, in particular the Chinese from Lukut? Or maybe I am entitled to avenge the death of my ancestors by 'teaching' the Lukut Chinese a lesson?
Sometimes the past is better left in the past, especially when all has been forgiven, though not quite forgotten. What the Chinese in Lukut did to my family in 1834 and what the Japanese did to Malayans during the Second World War is now a footnote in history. What PAS did two elections ago is also a footnote in history. Should we condemn the Indians for giving 90% of the votes to Barisan Nasional (MIC) in the recent Ijok by-election or should we instead support them and stand by HINDRAF because of what they are doing today rather than because of what they did a few months ago in Ijok?

Today, PAS is talking in another nada or tone of voice. That is what counts. Yesterday is yesterday. Today is what matters. And if today we still want to talk about what PAS did yesterday, then I too should condemn the Chinese for what they did yesterday to my family in Lukut and what the Indians did yesterday in Ijok. By the way, do you know we eventually lost Lukut, Linggi and the areas surrounding it because of this massacre? The British stepped in on the excuse of 'restoring law and order' and to protect their business interests. Negeri Sembilan would not exist and today it would still be part of Selangor if the Chinese had not started a 'war' down there.

Yesterday, 100 pro-government Malay Islamic groups led by ABIM announced that they want the government to Islamise this country. I need not go into details as you can read it here (Pro-government Islamic groups demanding stronger role for Islam ahead of polls in Malaysia) and here (PEMBELA declaration & press statement ).

Let us look at the track record.

Was it not PAS that summoned the Kelantan Hindus for a meeting and offered them a site for a Hindu temple even though they did not ask for one? Umno, however, during the time it was ruling Kelantan, blocked the building of a Hindu temple. Was it not Umno that declared Buddhist statues haram and blocked its construction in the state of Sabah? The court case is pending even as you read this. Was it not Umno that demolished Hindu temples in Selangor? Was it not Umno that shot tear gas and water cannons into the Batu Caves temple grounds? Was it not PAS that allowed pigs to be slaughtered in Kelantan while Umno, during the time it ruled Kelantan, forbade it? Look at the track record. Let the track record speak for itself.

Take a drive to Kelantan these next few days before the general election. Go visit the Kota Bharu market. See for yourself all the women selling at the Kota Bharu market. Yes, the women control the market. The women monopolise the economic scene. The batek and songket manufacturers are mostly all women. The signboards carry women's names. If you trade with them, you trade with the women. The women negotiate with you and the women handle all the money, not the men.

Where are the so-called 'separate check-out counters'? The men and women stand in the same line and the women serve you and you pay the women at the check-out counters. There are only separate toilets for men and women. The rest are all men-women mixed.

Go stay at the state government-owned Perdana Hotel in Kota Bharu. They have only one swimming pool. And you and your wife both swim in that same one pool. There are no two swimming pools, one for men and another for women.

You want to drink, fine, order a beer and send me the bill. Yes, you can get drunk in Kota Bharu if you want to, as you could in Terengganu when PAS was ruling that state from 1999 to 2004. Okay, Terengganu banned gambling when PAS was running that state. But that was because the PAS Menteri Besar had a meeting with the non-Muslims and they agreed that gambling is bad and should be banned. Some argue that gambling is Chinese culture and should not be banned. Well, why did the non-Muslims then ask the Menteri Besar to ban gambling? Anyway, I have made about ten trips to China thus far and have travelled the length and breadth of that country and none of the Chinese I met in China say that gambling is their culture. In fact, the Chinese government bans gambling and will not allow casinos on its soil.

If just because you want to gamble you would rather have Barisan Nasional rule Kelantan and Terengganu, then the Chinese are even shallower than I thought. But if it is really that important and really Chinese 'religion' that you gamble, then make this point clear to PAS. And if gambling is more important than a good future for your family, I am sure PAS will accommodate the Chinese and not interfere with Chinese 'religion', as it has promised. But please do not ask PAS to legalise child prostitution so that you can sell your children to the pimps for a profit as much as in some societies this is acceptable and very rampant.

Let me put it to you again in plain and simple English. PAS is contesting only 60 Parliament seats. They need 150 seats to control two-thirds of Parliament. PAS cannot implement Islamic laws even if they control two-thirds of the seats in the State Assembly without controlling two-thirds of Parliament. PAS is not pursuing the ISD any longer. Malaysia will remain a Secular State unless two-thirds of Malaysians demand this country be changed into an Islamic State through a referendum -- but then the referendum can only be called by Barisan Nasional and never by PAS because only Barisan Nasional controls two-thirds of Parliament.
Now, are we still worried about Malaysia being turned into an Islamic State? If we are then we had better watch Barisan Nasional closely because only Barisan Nasional can do that. Look at this news item again (Pro-government Islamic groups demanding stronger role for Islam ahead of polls in Malaysia) and here (PEMBELA declaration & press statement ). See who is crying out for more Islamisation? Is it PAS? Or is it the Umno-led organisations? And who will control two-thirds of Parliament come this election? Will it be PAS when it is contesting only 60 seats and may end up winning only half or so? Or will it be Barisan Nasional as most of you believe will happen? Is it wise, therefore, that Barisan Nasional be given two-thirds of the seats in Parliament? You decide come 8 March 2008 when you go to cast your votes.





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Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."

(Muttafaq 'alaih)

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