Opposition must unite to fight the common enemy

 Opposition and NGOs say no to fuel hikes. Malaysians want a united oppostion to fight the common enemy i.e. the Umno-led Barisan Nasional.

My humble opinion on the issue of Islamic State. 

This is my initial response to the article “Can Pas please respond?” written and posted by Raja Petra Kamaruddin in malaysia-today.net.

I sincerely hope that Pas would not belittle the effort of RPK on the issue of Islamic State, which is seen as one of the biggest hurdles in the way of opposition unity. In fact, I believe many Malaysians were hesitated about voting Pas simply because of the IS issue and other controversies arisen out of the concept. We hope Pas would not underestimate the negative impact of the IS concept among the non-Muslim voters in general.  We hope Pas leaders would take it as an opportunity to discuss the issue openly with Malaysian voters and find a solution or understanding in the process. 

I for one believe that the supporters and members supported Pas because they believe Pas is a party of integrity with the interest of the people in their hearts. They supported Pas not because the party aims to form an Islamic State in this country. Many have supported Pas because they do not trust Umno and other Barisan Nasional component parties. 

The concept of Islamic State is not the answer for the multiethnic, mulitireligious
Malaysia. The concept is not practical even in countries with a larger population of Muslims. Indonesia has more than 87% Muslims and yet the political leaders and the people of Indonesia in general know that it would not be practical to turn the nation into an Islamic State. It has nothing to do with whether the concept of Islamic State is good or bad. It’s simply not practical. That’s all.
 
The way forward for Malaysia would be “righting the wrongs of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional Government”.  Malaysia is a member of OIC and Malaysians in general have no problems with identifying Malaysia as an Islamic country. All can accept that Islam is the official religion of Malaysia and all other religions are free to be practiced. I would argue that it would not be suicidal for Pas to stop talking about Islamic State or even drop the concept all together. It’s a fact that the proposal to set up an Islamic State was not in the party constitution. It’s not mandatory for Pas leaders to promote the concept. 

In fact, Pas leaders have not been talking about IS for the past one to two years. And that’s a good sign. Islamic State is a concept. There is no single role model of Islamic states that we could emulate.  Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia…none of these could be considered as a role model.  And it’s certainly not practical to start an experiment here in Malaysia. We must recognize and respect the fact that the non-Muslim population in this country is no less than 40%.  Politics is about perception. Pas leaders I know are honest, friendly and passionate people. They always make my friends and me feel at home in their functions and receptions. Racism has no place in their brand of politics. But so long as Pas continue to talk about forming an Islamic State in this country, they would be seen as religious fanatics and even more extreme than Umno in the eyes of the non-Muslims. Little do they know that most of the problems we are now facing (the raids, the body-snatching, the mob-rule and the question of syariah courts versus civil courts) were mostly the works of overzealous followers and leaders of Umno. 

If Pas could recognize Malaysia as an Islamic country (but not an Islamic State), I believe more Malaysian voters would be more willing to cast their votes for the party. After all, Umno is the mother of all evils. Only Umno leaders would wave the dagger (keris) in their hands while giving insensitive and provocative speeches in their annual assemblies.  

This nation has had enough troubles and problems when we separate our citizens into Bumi and non-Bumi. We were afraid that turning Malaysia into an Islamic State would force the people to emphasize the difference between the Muslims and the non-Muslims, rather than accept and respect that we are free to practice the religion the individuals have chosen. 

On the other hand, the people have no problems if our political leaders wish to introduce Islamic values such as clean and trustworthy governance and helping the poor and needy in the society. These values are universal and could readily accept by the followers of different faiths. 

I have reasons to believe that many Malaysians would like to see real unity among the opposition parties. They cannot see why the opposition parties must fight among themselves instead of fighting their common enemy-i.e. the Umno-led Barisan Nasional.

And the concept of Islamic State is certainly one barrier we can afford to remove. For the sake of the rakyat, the opposition parties must work on some common grounds together instead of emphasizing on the differences. 

It’s a sin to allow the Umno-led Barisan Nasional to win big again in the next general elections. Malaysia has no future if BN continues to rule. Period. 

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