PKR, DAP should break off ties with Pas and form progressive alliance

 

Tackling the serious issues facing the nation requires a progressive political front that is underpinned by the spiritual freedom needed to deal with complex challenges, writes Ronald Benjamin.

Pakatan-Rakyat

Pas’ insistence on tabling private members’ bills to implement hudud in Kelantan would not only reinforce the ethno-religious divide in this country but also lead to a catastrophic defeat for Pakatan Rakyat in the next general election.

Pas’ insistence on tabling the bills in Parliament will be used by the Barisan National to frighten non-Muslims in the next general election. It would paint a grim picture of what Pas is capable of, if Pakatan Rakyat is given the mandate to rule.

Umno’s ambiguous non-committal response clearly reveals that it intends to press on the soft spot that is Pas, known for its goal of setting up an Islamic state; Umno understands that this issue could break up Pakatan Rakyat.
Pas has basically fallen into a trap of its own ideological zeal, completely divorced from the aspirations of common Malaysians. The issues here are not merely about the democratic right of PAS to implement hudud in Kelantan, but how this affects the equality of citizens before the law and the implication of having two sets of laws in the criminal justice system.

This episode also shows that the Pakatan Rakyat parties have not made substantial progress in resolving the Islamic State conundrum; instead they have made use of each party’s political strength for electoral gain. It is obvious that the polemics on hudud is taking place in a context where Umno’s political leadership is weak, controlled by right wing extremists who are trying to enhance their dominance over the Malay masses by wooing Pas in the name of Muslim unity.

Whether or not Pas succeeds in implementing hudud in Kelantan, it will have created an environment of distrust among the Pakatan parties such as the PKR and the DAP. Questions will be raised about Pas’ real motive in being a part of Pakatan Rakyat.

Pas is basically trying to recapture its lost identity in Pakatan Rakyat, whose common policies do not appear to have connected with the party’s Malay-Muslim cultural and ideological identity. Although Pas does have progressive voices in its ranks, its power structure is controlled by the conservative ulamas. If it wins big in the next general election, it would certainly introduce the hudud at the federal level knowing that it has to provide a clear distinction between their Islam and the Umno brand of Islam.

The question now is whether the DAP and the PKR’s discourse on this issue will be hijacked by Pas, whose only aim in politics is to create an Islamic state.

The DAP and the PKR should seriously consider terminating its relationship with Pas, which is basically controlled by its religious elites, and come up with a new alliance to salvage Malaysia: a centre-left coalition that is secular but not anti religion. This coalition should incorporate progressive forces such as Party Socialist Malaysia and even those BN parties that are moving away from conservative ethno-religious-centric politics.

This coalition should work towards reducing the class divide and empowering the bottom 40 per cent of Malaysians, the low-income category. It could do this by ensuring corrupt-free governance under which the common rights of citizens take precedence over ethno-religiosity that has a damaging polarising effect on Malaysian society.

The question is whether the PKR and the DAP are able take up the challenge to forge a partnership of progressive forces without Pas? Can the PKR and the DAP break from an elitist-driven political leadership and work with the grassroots?

A change in their political approach is vital because of the serious issues that Malaysia is facing such as religious intolerance, corruption, deteriorating education standards, abuse of power, and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Tackling these issues requires a progressive political front that is underpinned by the substance of religion and the spiritual freedom needed to deal with complex challenges.

Ronald Benjamin

Ronald Benjamin, an Aliran member, is a human resources practitioner based in Ipoh.

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6 Responses

  1. Anak Kampung says:

    Something to consider indeed. And if any of the race-based parties from BN want to join, they should be rejected out of hand. If they are really interested in the good of Malaysia, they should dissolve and their members can rejoin non-race-based parties.

  2. HT Low says:

    Unfortunately, the immaturity of the political environment means there are a couple more decades between M’sians ditch the race-based political setup. In other words, a lot more pain had to be endured by M’sians before they wake up to to the fact that the future is ideological-based (or issue-based) politics as opposed to race-based. The ‘We-are-all-M’sians’ concept is a bridge too far at the moment.

    • Anak Kampung says:

      I’m not sure I agree with this ‘stupid natives’ depiction of Malaysians. Malaysians are far more ‘advanced’ in their thinking than the ‘political elite’. Even in the early days of this nation, ideological based parties captures a significant fraction of the vote. But of course (see Wong Chin Huat’s work) they were all ‘malapportioned’ out of existence. Was this done with the collusion of the EC then and the British? A question Malaysians have to ask.

  3. This is Malaysian politics where everyone is only interested in what they can get out of the situation, period.
    Tak for example, all the ‘partners in BN, are staying in BN because of what they are getting and as a result the Umno schmucks are able to claim all the polices implemented are with approval of these people they represent.
    Thus the schmucks in Umno are able to claim the policies are with endorsement of all the people and that is why people like the egregious Mahathir are always demanding that MCA must be included in BN and Najib is even keeping the transport portfolio open to day for MCA. Even though MCA representation of the Malaysian Chinese is long gone but the lackeys are always mindful of the glamour and the chances of getting the ill gotten wealth that goes with that the position of a minister is there.

    Just look at all the retired leaders of these parties how wealthy and comfortable they are, not because of their acumen in business or because of the fortune they have inherited. MCA used to have over 60 seats in parliament but now have only a token number of 8 seats. How can MCA have the legitimate right to be representing the million of Malaysian Chinese in the present circumstances ?

    Likewise look at MIC, another one of the coalition partners who is supposed to represent the few million Indian Malaysians and how many seats do MIC have in parliament ?

    …. every policy that Umno schmucks want, desire and propose are ALWAYS implemented. No ‘partners’ in BN has any say or any right of a partner or ever being known to have objected in any proposals by forth by Umno. ? Clearly their presence in BN is only to legitimise whatever Umno want, desire and to endorse all their proposals.

    in spite of their already diminishing support of the people they are supposed to represent some of the remaining lackeys are still there in the partnership representing their communities. My one other question is what have they said or done about the 96% of the civil services being taken filled by only one race ? Should the percentages of the population be represented according ? I am not suggesting that Malays be marginalised but all I am demanding is the rightful share of the other communities in this country. Here is another reason why so many million of Chinese Malaysians have immigrated and millions more are waiting in line to do so.
    And Najib you Talent Corp will never ever be able to replace the millions of talented, skillful professionals that have immigrated. Therefore a day will s=come when you may have hospitals built around the country but what are these hospitals good for without the right kind and skillful doctors to look after your 30 millions Malaysians ? Just have them filled up by the quakes that your universities are producing and this is just a typical example of Malaysia will be soon !

  4. Apollos22 says:

    “Pas’ insistence on tabling private members’ bills to implement hudud in Kelantan would not only reinforce the ethno-religious divide in this country but also lead to a catastrophic defeat for Pakatan Rakyat in the next general election.”
    Ditto. The Cause (show BN the door) is already lost when individual party in PR can’t see the Cause is more important and greater than its individual party’s pet ideology. Sad but true. To paraphrase Haris Ibrahim, PAS must know that we voted for it not because we love PAS and we can and we will vote you out at the next GE. Forget that at your own peril!

  5. What everyone is advocating for that DAP and PKR are to break up with Pas is exactly what the schmucks in Umno is asking and praying for. It will then enable these Umno schmucks to continue staying in Putrajaya even as a minority elected government because there is no other party with a bigger number of MPs in parliament than they are. Therefore don’t fall for the trick these Umno schmucks is using.
    At any price now the first thing to do is just these Umno schmucks out of Putrajaya and then get things sorted out if you can. I know it will be extremely difficult because right now even before the opposition takes over Putrajaya everyone is already fighting for a share of the prize. But at least the defeat of Umno would have be done, which is most important.
    Their continue presence in Putrajaya at any cost and besides even with only a slice of the prize, even though it be best to have half or the whole pie . But even a slice of it, is better than nothing and also an opportunity to have all the Umno’s lackeys and their ‘ running ….’ taken out or replaced from the present system. It is going to be hard but nothing good is going to come easily.
    Besides hudud will no doubt stoned (many of) the Umno schmucks and most all these schmucks will be without …. limbs to commit their (wrongdoings) any further !

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