Not many are aware that the Islamic party PAS had its humble beginnings in Penang, which is a compelling reason for the party to choose Kepala Batas to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
The event is historic, for the party intends to make a stronger impact within the state, although it has only two seats – a Parliament seat and the state seat of Permatang Pasir, Parit Buntar MP Mujahid Yusuf Rawa said.
However, Mujahid, who is also a PAS central committee member, did not commit himself on whether the party would contest more seats in Penang in the next election, which could be called as early as November or early next year.
Mujahid (right) said PAS would focus on issues and challenges affecting the party all these years as it faces a “rebranding” exercise to become more viable to all Malaysians.
“It is important that Penangites know PAS history and how the party first begun in the state,” he told Malaysiakini, when met in Seberang Perai last night.
“Through the years, PAS had become stronger, unlike other political parties, whose presence has diminished. We have managed to flourish in a multi-racial country like Malaysia,” he added.
Mastering art of survival
Mujahid said PAS, which currently governs the states of Kelantan and Kedah, and briefly held the Perak MB’s post before the state was reclaimed by Barisan Nasional in 2009, has adapted itself not only to the country’s diverse social landscape but with the global Islamic platform as well.
The party’s anniversary celebration will start this evening, followed by the official launch of a two-day congress by party president Abdul Hadi Awang tomorrow, and end on Sunday.
The congress, where various papers by top PAS leaders will be presented, will focus on the party’s strategies for the coming general election, which must be called by 2013.
Asked if the congress would touch on the recent controversy surrounding the PAS-led Kelantan government’s intention to implement syariah criminal law or hudud, Mujahid said it was not likely.
If the topic, which drove a wedge among the Pakatan Rakyat allies, were to be touched on, it would be only to update members on recent developments.
The celebration will kick off with a carnival and exhibition on the party’s history, and the closing ceremony on Sunday will be presided over by Kelantan Menteri Besar and PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat.
There will also be speeches by Pakatan big-wigs, including DAP national chief Karpal Singh and PKR supremo and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, on Saturday night.
No backdoor hudud for PAS
This will be followed by a forum which is expected to see the attendance of PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin as panel members.
Mujahid also said he was pleased that the recent Pakatan leaders’ meeting had respected PAS’ position in wanting to enact the hudud law, which was first proposed in 1993.
He said PAS had always proposed Islamic law within the legal framework and has never attempted to force it on others “through the back door”.
The party would rather discuss the enactment in a professional and legal manner, instead of politicising the issue to confuse the rakyat.
“We should continue to discuss the concept and philosophy behind the law in an intellectual manner instead of turning it into a political controversy,” Mujahid said.
“We always planned to do it legally and not illegally. So far, the federal government has been hindering our efforts.
“I admit that we did not mention it in our common policy framework – Buku Jingga – as hudud is under the states’ jurisdiction. The document deals with issues at the federal level,” he added.