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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Non-Muslim View of PAS has changed since March 8

Despite repeated accusations from its rival Umno that Pas has departed from its ideology since forming an alliance with the secular DAP and PKR after the last general election its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said the party has always been consistent.

"Islamic laws have never changed. There are conditions to be fulfilled before Islamic laws can be implemented. Non-Muslims cannot be forced, but the laws are not repealed when the conditions are not satisfied," said Hadi in an interview recently.

The party's stand on increasing the role of Islam in governance has always been an impediment to closer cooperation among the federal opposition parties.

A coalition formed on the eve 1999 general election, the Barisan Alternatif, collapsed two years later due to ideological differences.

The last general election saw Pas changing its approach where it campaigned on the platform of creating a welfare state but Hadi said the party's ideology remains unchanged.

Its changed approach resulted in Pas being labelled a flip-flop party by Barisan Nasional in the Kuala Terengganu by-election last January.

"Pas has no problem with any party. We believe in Islam which has been successfully practiced for the past 1,300 years," said the Marang MP.

"The fall of Islamic governments started when Muslim leaders abandoned its teachings and not because Islam has weaknesses," he added.

Hadi argued that it was Pas that has been successful in making the non-Muslims more receptive to the party, which can be seen through the formation of the party's supporters club.

"We have even changed the non-Muslims' perception towards Islam. We have bridged the divide between us and the non-Muslims," said Hadi.

The results of the March 8 general election resulted in Pas becoming the opposition party with the least number of seats in Parliament unlike in 1999 when it dominated the opposition bench.

But Hadi insisted as the opposition party with the most experience, Pas has benefited from joining Pakatan Rakyat.

"We have benefited a lot, as we are the most experienced party in Pakatan Rakyat, it is not that we are not taking advantage of this, but we wish to forge a close relationship among Pakatan parties," said Hadi.

"Perhaps for DAP and PKR this is the first time they are ruling a state government but we have experienced this before, including what happened in Perak we have faced it in Terengganu and Kelantan in the 50s, 60s and 70s," he added.

Still, the March 8 election also made the ideological divide within Pas became clearer, after it was revealed that some leaders were in favour of political cooperation with Umno while some preferred to remain with PKR and DAP.

Hadi however was non-committal when asked about the disagreements within the party.

"In Islam there is no conservative and no liberal but there are certain things that cannot be questioned. On non-fundamental matters we can disagree, and that is why there are dozens of school of thoughts in Islam," said Hadi.

While the party's two highest decision making bodies, the central committee and the religious scholars' consultative council, had last year stopped the attempt to cooperate with Umno, Hadi is now floating the idea of a unity government involving all political parties.


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