Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PAS slams Dr M, denies being insincere to woo Chinese

Dr Mahathir’s claims of PAS hypocrisy have caused the party’s leaders to hone in on Umno’s own. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 (TMI) — PAS leaders have retaliated against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for calling their party hypocritical with a jibe of their own: Accusing Umno of rallying support by using a brand of Islam that leads to “church attacks” and “cow head protests”.

The leaders denied that PAS was only being accommodative to the Chinese for the sake of winning votes, pointing out that the very foundation of the party was to spread Islamic justice to all, regardless of race or religion.

PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said that PAS had always been consistent in its struggle to spread justice through Islam, adding that it did not matter who the recipients of justice was — be they Chinese, Malays, Indians or others.

“What is he (Dr Mahathir) talking about? We are very clear about our beliefs and we have never strayed from them.

“We have been, since our inception, consistently campaigning and placing Islam as our reason for being, as our commitment and conviction.

“We always speak about Islamic justice and fairness and equality for all, all of these are espoused in Islam. It is commanded and demanded of us as Muslims to provide justice to all... it is not political expediency,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

In his blog posting two days ago, Dr Mahathir, the country’s longest-serving prime minister criticised PAS for being disingenuous, claiming that the Islamist party was only pretending to be accommodating of the Chinese to win their votes.

He claimed that if PAS seemed extremely supportive of the Chinese today, it was not because the party was “disaffected with race and religion” but because it wanted to play up Chinese racial sentiments to win their votes.

“Hypocrisy is very much alive in Malaysian politics,” Dr Mahathir had declared.

Dzulkefly shrugged off the former prime minister’s accusations and instead criticised Umno for using a violent brand of Islam to woo for votes, claiming that their methods only lead to chaos and racism.

“Islam preaches justice against corruption, it preaches about defending the rights of the others in their practices, whether religious or non-religious.

“Umno is not doing this. They use Islam differently. The attack on churches, the cow head incident — that is the kind of Islam they have,” he said.

Dzulkefly stressed that unlike Umno, PAS was not using Islam as its tool to canvass for votes.

“We are tools of Islam, not using Islam as a tool,” he said.

He also rubbished Dr Mahathir’s claim that the Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership would only grant more political power to the Chinese if the Malays expanded themselves economically, claiming that this would never become a reality.

“It is a total farce. The Chinese will never be given more political power under the BN. Out of the 165 seats in West Malaysia, 96 is Malay-held and 69 went to the non-Malays. Of the 222 parliamentary seats, 131 went to the Malays and 91 to the non-Malays.

“What is he saying then? They in the BN are only trying to play up their politics of fear of racism, for the purpose of dividing and then ruling. They are calling for Malay unity now because they fear that the Chinese will rule the country? We do not buy this racial politics,” he said.

Another PAS leader, Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli, mocked Dr Mahathir for his statement that PAS was only playing nice with the Chinese to gain power, pointing out that the former premier was indirectly indicating that the Chinese were incapable of thinking for themselves.

“There is no point for Dr Mahathir to accuse us. The Chinese know where they stand. Here, you are saying that PAS is going to bluff the Chinese with promises but the Chinese are more politically aware and sound than that.

“They know where they stand in Malaysian politics and whoever comes along to make incredible promises will just become the laughing stock of the nation,” he said when contacted.

Dr Mohd Hatta noted that PAS was merely trying to provide fair and equal opportunities to all and would not dare to make promises they could not keep in the future.

“Come on, you have to give them better credit. The Chinese will not be taken for a ride, not like the way Dr Mahathir is claiming,” he said.

He accused the former premier of attempting too hard to remain politically relevant and for politicking on behalf of the BN.

“We in PAS condemned racial politics right from the beginning. We reject narrow thinking. Umno practises narrow Malay politics. MCA practises narrow politics too. This is why we rejected Umno’s partnership with MCA from before.

“For us in the Pakatan Rakyat, our partnership with DAP is for the struggle for justice, not for racial politics,” he said.

PAS central committee member Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar concurred with his colleagues but added that he was not surprised at Dr Mahathir’s accusation.

“These are just accusations thrown at us from all over but the proof is in what we have done inside the party and in the states we have governed,” he said.

As an example of PAS’ sincerity in working together with the non-Muslims, Kamaruddin reminded of how the party had institutionalised the non-Muslim component of PAS’s membership structure.

“We have the PAS supporters’ [congress] and we have thousands of members with us who are non-Muslims.

“This is concrete proof that PAS has taken the role of the non-Muslims right into the party itself. How could you say we are just being hypocritical?” he said.

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