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PAS Member is Open and Inclusive

By Cheong Suk-Wai (The Straits Times Singapore)

'Master race completely unacceptable'
A SELF-DEPRECATING man with gentle humour, Selangor parliamentarian Khalid Abdul Samad is a study in sanguinity. Here are his views on:

· Current police reports and disciplinary action against him
'I have quite a hectic lifestyle, lah!'

· Being detained again under the Internal Security Act
'Perhaps (Parti Islam SeMalaysia's) actions towards me may suffice; I may have been sufficiently 'discredited'. So that might be a blessing in disguise.'

· Umno
'It cannot talk about good governance, social justice, transparency and competency (because) it has failed in all these fields. It's left with only Malay nationalism.'

· Changing the Malay mindset
'It's difficult because (Umno) has complete control over the media and the people are being fed this racial understanding for breakfast, lunch and dinner.'

· The notion of Malay supremacy
'From an Islamic point of view, a race which is master over others has no religious justification. It's completely unacceptable.'

· Why Malays don't necessarily support the opposition
'We did not do well (in the last general election) because of a fundamental change in their mindset. We did well because of our anti-corruption, not anti-racial, policies.'

· Why PAS' messages for rural and urban voters differ
'We're not pretending to be two different people, but we have to (consider) the level of understanding among different sectors in society.'

· Getting on with his brother, Umno stalwart Shahrir Abdul Samad
'We discuss and debate, but we try not to get too overexcited so that we don't endanger family relations.'


THE past fortnight has been a blur for Malaysian opposition parliamentarian and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) strongman Khalid Abdul Samad.

On Jan 22, the Sultan of Selangor granted this Shah Alam MP an audience to discuss Mr Khalid's views that a 1988 state law, which prohibits non-Muslims from uttering the word 'Allah', was outmoded and should be amended.

Two days later, his embittered fellow parliamentarian, Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) Zulkifli Noordin lodged a police report against him for those very views. Mr Khalid, 52, is respected by many Malaysians for his open and inclusive ways. He regularly visits churches and temples to foster inter-religious understanding.

Last Friday, the former Internal Security Act detainee was suspended for six months as a member of PAS' top decision-making body, the Central Political Bureau, and as Shah Alam branch head. That's because he had alleged that his superior was sabotaging the opposition Selangor state government.

A chemical engineer by training and alumnus of Leeds University , Mr Khalid is a married father of four and the younger brother of Umno veteran, Johor Baru MP and former Cabinet minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad. Their political paths diverged in 1983, when Mr Khalid joined PAS.

On the phone with me last Sunday from Jazan in Saudi Arabia , where he is cooling his heels till mid-February, he told me about his present predicament and his concerns about Malaysia 's future:

· What's your take on the Allah issue?

Umno wanted to drag PAS into a position similar to theirs - that Islam is not inclusive - thereby creating friction between PAS and the other parties in (the opposition) Pakatan Rakyat (PR)...In that context, PAS did the right thing by not going along.

· What exactly is the theological position on this?

There is sufficient proof to say that such a use (of the word Allah) is allowed provided it is used for God Almighty only. There are those who say that the name of Jesus is being used everywhere these days and they fear that the word Allah will be used with disrespect. (If that is so), that would not be justifiable.

· Why have your views on this led to a police report?

I had a meeting with the Sultan of Selangor on Jan 22, in which the Sultan said that I had to respect the state law which prohibits non-Muslims from using the word Allah. But there might be reasons for considering amendments to the enactment because it became law in 1988 and conditions may have changed since then.

· So what's the upshot of your audience with the Sultan?

The Sultan said (I should) put in a proper proposal for amendments rather than go around giving ceramah (Malay for speech) after ceramah on it, which would (make it) a continual, unresolved polemic. But then (Zulkifli lodged the police report against me). Even the Sultan was more open than him.

· So where can you go from here?

I suppose I can pick up from where I left off with the Sultan and (propose) the amendments. I've got to meet the PAS leaders. Unfortunately, last week's developments make that awkward.

· How so?

I've been having a running battle with PAS Selangor state commissioner Hasan Ali for a while because there is a strong tendency on his part to (have) strong cooperation with Umno. He's continually trying to create problems for PR in Selangor. In the end, there was a formal report made against me to the party's disciplinary committee. They met and decided last Friday that I have done something against the party and so I have been suspended from all posts for six months, effective immediately.

· What do you think of that?

(The committee) is technically correct. I have gone against my leader. But the question is whether my insubordination is justifiable or otherwise. The committee did not look into the reasons for my insubordination. The same committee found Hasan at fault but he got off with a stern warning and prohibition against making further statements.

· So why did you get the short end of the stick?

PAS is a party that has always emphasised organisational discipline, but what has not been taken into account is that I opposed Hasan in closed-door meetings for many months. I wrote to the top leaders about his behaviour. Impatient as I am, I went through proper channels.

· Your constituency of Shah Alam seems to be a hotbed of racial tension, including Malays stomping on cow's heads to protest against Indian temples there. Why is that?

That's a difficult question to answer. I suppose by virtue of being the state capital, there's more activity there and so there's a lot more things to put right compared to elsewhere. For example, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's headquarters is in Shah Alam, where (PR) aide Teoh Beng Hock was killed. The Hindu temple was on land which is not gazetted for a temple and doesn't have the normal facilities like parking spaces. This problem has gone unresolved for 26 years. So there's a lot of discomfort between the Malays who have a temple right in front of their houses and the Indians who go to the temple and have to park their cars in front of others' houses...and whose festivities sometimes last into the night.

· How do you manage these tensions?

There's no shortcut...we have to engage, dispel fear and try and build (trust).

· What do the Malays have to fear?

That they will be displaced, sidelined and that whatever status they have now is a result of the current government's racial policies. So No. 1, it's going to be a big challenge for us to get them to understand that when we talk about justice, it means justice for all...It remains to be seen to what extent society at large is ready for a non-racial policy.

· What do you make of the notion of Malays being supreme?

The question of special Malay rights is not in any way equivalent to the question of Malay supremacy. When Malaysia was formed, everyone became equal citizens. Special Malay privileges (was in) the Constitution - not to ensure the supremacy of the Malays, but to ensure that they would not be sidelined.

· What of the notion that one religion is supreme then?

Not supreme, just that the Federation's official religion is Islam...So people who look on (Malaysia) will say, 'Okay, fundamentally this is a state where Islamic law is running parallel with civil laws and Islam has a place within the society's political make-up'. But other religions can be (freely) practised and upheld.

· Knowing this, why does PAS still insist on an Islamic state?

It's a question of semantics. We've realised that the term conjures very inaccurate images of what we mean...Actually, we've reminded our leaders that in PAS' constitution, the term 'Islamic state' does not exist. (Instead), what it states is that we want a society governed with Islamic values.

Courtesy of The Straits Times Singapore
-Pejabat YB Khalid Samad-


Kamarul said…
I don't personally know YB Khalid. However, judging by what he said, he is surely a much better President material than YB Hadi. Doesn't augur well for PAS when a leader like him is disciplined for his very sound views.
Syafique said…
YB Khalid

Here's an interesting write-up on controversial statements in the Quran and its incompatibility with 21st century living.

For your reading pleasure (or displeasure).
Nizam said…
Anonymous said…
Syafique, the write-up is not worth reading. It didn't mean anything. There are no interpretations, no explanations, just excerpts. It's like saying "I am mad". What do you mean by that? It could mean you're crazy. It could mean you're not happy with someone or something. What I m saying is, when you read something, make sure you read the whole sentences.... before, after, it's linkages to related events etc...

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