Hafiz Yatim and Yap Jia Hee
Jul 1, 2015
INTERVIEW Following the uncertainty plaguing the future of PAS in Pakatan Rakyat, the son of a former party president hopes the PAS offshoot that is being mooted will accept Muslims and non-Muslims as members – as long as they support the Islamic cause and are allowed to vote in the new party.
Faiz Fadzil, 38, son of the late Fadzil Noor, who was PAS president from 1989 to 2002, voiced this in light of the fact that there has been no sign of any acknowledgement for the progressives in the party who were defeated in the 61st PAS Muktamar at the beginning of June.
“The new party’s struggle and policy must still be Islam and it should also be pragmatic, progressive and inclusive for all races. There is no compulsion to embrace Islam but individuals, namely non-Muslims, who see the goodness of Islam can join (the new party).
“As I have said, Islam is comprehensive religion and we should see it in the context of administration, justice, good governance and the welfare of the citizens and not merely hudud.
“As for members, it should be open to all Muslims and non-Muslims who support the Islamic struggle This is unlike the current PAS, where they only have the party supporters’ wing, which is not an open membership.
“The new party, I hope, will open its membership to non-Muslims, who should also be allowed to vote,” Faiz told Malaysiakini in an interview last week.
Faiz, who runs his own law firm in Negeri Sembilan, said at present the non-Muslim supporters in PAS are not allowed to vote and are not given any position within the party.
He said this was because PAS was not prepared to open its membership to non-Muslims and this has resulted in the PAS Supporters Wing having a limited role.
“However, in the new party (I propose) that the non-Muslims be placed in the party administration,” said Faiz, a graduate from the International Islamic University (IIU).
Faiz added that he supported the formation of the new party by the present PAS progressives as the new PAS leadership has shown that it is not changing its hardline stance since taking over the party last month.
He said it is the new party’s responsibility to fill the vacuum left by PAS, adding, “I will support the formation of the new party, looking at the present trend in PAS now.”
‘Pakatan is technically dead’
Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad mooted the formation of a new party by PAS progressives, should the present batch of conservative leaders not change their outlook following the ouster of the faction of professionals during last month’s party elections.
Asked whether the PAS Supporters Wing was happy with the present leadership, Faiz said from what he gathered, they are equally unhappy as the progressives as the new leaders were focusing strictly on religion, not on the realities of Malaysian politics.
He said the present PAS leaders do not think that the votes of people of other races are important.
“However, we (the progressives) think otherwise. If getting the Malay and Muslim vote is difficult (for PAS), how can the present leadership expect to get the backing of non-Muslims (if they continue to behave like this)?” he warned.
As to whether he agreed with party president Abdul Hadi Awang, that the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition was still alive, Faiz said technically it was dead as the coalition, formed after the 2008 general election, involved three parties.
“In the concept of a partnership, if there are two partners that relinquish their ties, then what is left in Pakatan is only PKR. It is not right to say that PAS still cooperates with PKR or DAP still cooperates with PKR. For me, this is not Pakatan.
“Technically, for me, Pakatan is already dead and I think we have to move forward, Insya’Allah, with a new force and party. And along with a new coalition, we will move forward,” he said.
Asked to comment on PAS acting spiritual adviser Haron Din’s statement that past experience showed a splinter PAS party would not do well, Faiz said that may be true of splinter parties like Hamim and Berjasa, which were political parties aligned to Umno.
At present, he said, PAS was leaning towards Umno and it would ‘drift away’ if the new party mooted is formed and remains close with the opposition.
‘PAS cannot replace Umno’
“The new party when formed will save PAS members as I believe there are many who are confused with the party’s direction now, and they are not confident if they can combine with Umno or otherwise.
“Maybe this is premature, but the gentle statements issued so far by the PAS leadership have given an advantage to Umno. They have not made any statements attacking Umno over their cruelty and abuse of power and as such, the people are wondering as to where PAS stands now,” he said.
Faiz warned that if PAS was now pro-Umno, it would be the one that would drift away, not the new party.
He also acknowledged that if the new party is formed, the voters may see a tight competition for votes.
However, he said, he had confidence in the people in that they would know that PAS cannot be relied upon to replace Umno.
“I believe that, within a year or two after the formation of the new party, and if PAS continues its current hardline stance, then it will take a back seat in the political landscape.
“The people will choose the new party over Umno and PAS,” Faiz said, noting that expressions of support for the formation of a new party by the PAS progressives have been good.
“I was at a talk in Seremban recently, where I tried to gauge the support of non-Muslims for PAS and I received only a lukewarm response.
“But when I said a new party could be formed, they clapped hard,” Faiz said.