Husam: Islamic state not on Pakatan agenda [Part 1]
Posted April 10, 2008on:
|Beh Lih Yi & Fathi Aris Omar | Apr 8, 08 2:27pm|
|Islamist party PAS will continue to champion the cause of an Islamic state although it will not pursue the agenda through the newly-formed opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat, a senior PAS leader has said.
Vice-president Husam Musa said the Islamic state, a controversial agenda which often caused ideological tiffs between PAS and DAP, shall remain a “guidance” for its members at the party level.
“PAS members need an idealism to serve as their reference. Islamic state is that idealism which differentiate our members from other political parties,” he told Malaysiakini in an hour-long interview in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“If we want to fight corruption, what is the basis? For PAS members, it is based on Islamic teachings that a leader must be clean, transparent and avoid corrupt practice, that is the Islamic description of a leader. If you don’t have this, you will just be another Umno leader.”
Husam, who represents the more open-minded professional group within PAS, stressed that Islamic governance is similar to that of universal good governance standard such as the emphasis on trustworthy, fairness, justice and no discrimination, among others.
He however quickly added that PAS did not seek to pursue its Islamic agenda at PR level.
“We accept the federal constitution as the main frame (in governing) and it is the basis where we move,” he said, assuring coalition partners, especially DAP, not to be worried over the matter.
‘BN post-election agenda’
PAS’ intention to establish an Islamic state has long been a bone of contention among the opposition parties and led to the Chinese-predominant DAP to leave the Barisan Alternatif coalition – which also comprised of PKR – in 2001.
The non-Muslims are in fear that strict Islamic laws, which provide for amputation and stoning to death, will be imposed should an Islamic state is set up although PAS has repeatedly cited the state of Kelantan where it ruled since 1990 as an example to show its respect for other races.
However, with its dismal showing in the 2004 general elections winning only six parliamentary seats, PAS decided to ‘soften’ its image as a hardline Islamic party and toned down on its Islamic state agenda.
Nevertheless, the problem seem to continue to plague the opposition parties with the formation of the new opposition alliance, called PR this time, after their differences on the matter were played up in the media.
DAP chairperson Karpal Singh was quoted in the media last week as telling PAS not to dream of spearheading PR to realise its struggle of making Malaysia an Islamic state to which PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat retorted that the former has belittled PAS’ efforts to promote Islam.
On this, the Kelantan-based Husam claimed these media reports were part of the “post-election agenda by Barisan Nasional to damage and destroy the stability of PR”.
“From the PAS perspective, it is a big success where DAP can accept PAS (in forming PR),” said Husam, who holds the influential post of economic planning, finance and welfare in the Kelantan state government’s line-up.
He stressed that none of the three opposition parties could afford to pursue its own agenda as the election results, he argued, have shown the people were expecting PKR, DAP and PAS to work together.
“The parties need to understand that the people wanted to reject BN, deny their two-thirds and reduce their arrogance in power. It is not because they love PKR, DAP or PAS but they hate BN, so we can’t claim it’s just PAS’ victory or DAP’s victory.
“For that, we need to put people’s agenda as the first priority,” he pointed out.
Nik Aziz’s health ‘as good as before’
An apparent right-hand man to current Kelantan MB Nik Abdul Aziz, who is also his political mentor, Husam has been seen as the leading contender to succeed the much-respected state’s leader.
The economics graduate from Universiti Malaya had served as the press and political secretary to Nik Abdul Aziz for nine years before he stood and won the Kubang Kerian parliamentary seat in the 1999 general election.
“When I joined PAS after graduating from university, PAS was at its lowest ebb, it lost in the election and was kicked out from BN. From day one, I just want to support and assist the party in its struggle.
“I never dreamt of being a state assemblyperson or parliamentarian, so the issue of me being a MB candidate do not arise. There can be all sorts of speculations and perceptions but personally speaking, I don’t think I am qualified for the job,” he said, without elaborate.
He said there are many other capable leaders in the state who are potential successors to Nik Abdul Aziz, but added that he has no clue when the elderly leader will step down.
Husam also brushed off speculations on Nik Aziz’s deteriorating health. According to him, the MB’s health condition is “as good as before”.
“Sometimes, he go to hospital just for a rest,” said Husam, pointing out the MB normally will have to receive a stream of visitors when the latter is at home.
Below are other highlights of the interview:
On the opposition’s victories in the March 8 election
On the ‘new politics’
When (DAP supremo) Lim Kit Siang said he can’t accept a PAS menteri besar (in Perak), he received so many comments on his blog from all races including the Chinese who said they don’t mind supporting a PAS MP as long as the old government is replaced by a new government. This is a new trend (in politics). Therefore, at this stage, if you want to pursue your own agenda, you will neglect the people’s expectation (for a change).
On the new opposition-ruled state governments
There shall be two priorities. Firstly, they must strengthen the state government’s machinery and policies which will realise the people’s wish for changes and a better welfare. They must uphold the spirit of good governance and improve the efficiency of local council which have became the complaint of the people. Secondly, the new state government must audit what was done by the previous government, so there is a line drawn on the new and old state governments.
They can also review the structure of the revenue and tax (collection) which is under their jurisdiction. They can use these revenue efficiently, set up a fund to prepare for more housing scheme, especially for the Indians in the estates.
On Selangor’s proposal to impose an additional RM9 levy on foreign worker
I can understand the objective to have that policy but I hope it can be studied further. Foreign workers, especially the Indonesians and Bangladeshi, are among the poorest foreign workers. RM9 is a big burden for them. Since the federal government already imposed an one percent levy on them, collecting more than RM200 million a year, it’s better the Selangor state government can talk to the federal government to get some of these funds. The RM9 is unavoidable going to be transferred onto the workers due to our present labour contracts which are not so clear. In additional to that, the federal government has offered more than 40 types of training, so it could be redundant (for the Selangor state government to impose the levy and use the fund to organise training for locals).