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PAS is not Built Around Individuals

Despite his appointment as first-term parliamentarian after the 2008 general election, PAS’ Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad is not a new face in Malaysian politics.

The brother of former minister, Shahrir Samad, has been a vocal proponent of the party since joining it in 1983. He contested in four parliamentary seats prior to winning Shah Alam.

Little known to many, Khalid was detained for nine months under the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) during Operation Lalang in 1987.

In an exclusive interview with FMT, Khalid speaks of his achievements as first-term MP, the controversial Allah issue, and gives his views of his former colleague Dr Hasan Ali.

FMT: Will you be defending the Shah Alam parliamentary seat?

Khalid: We will wait until last minute (to name candidates ). However, it is standard practice for incumbents who perform to maintain their seat for at least two terms. To give two terms is good practice. About a week or so after the dissolution of parliament, PAS will name its candidates.

Will PAS be fielding any candidates in Sabah and Sarawak? If so, how many?

Khalid: I don’t have the figure with me now, but I believe we are fielding candidates in Kota Belud, and possibly Sandakan and Tawau. There are a few seats in both states we are taking and it will be a bit more than in 2008. We will make sure no seat is won by BN uncontested.

Who will be PAS’ choice for Selangor MB? Would you still stand by (incumbent) Khalid Ibrahim?

Khalid: So far, there is no talk of change. Khalid has his weaknesses, but his strengths outweigh his weaknesses. Even if he does not become MB again, he will have a prominent role in determining state policies.
In the end, it is PKR’s choice assuming they win most seats in Selangor again. But if PAS has a candidate who is better and can be considered, we will put his name on the table. We want the best person at the helm.

Has the Allah issue been sorted out? How will the issue affect voters in Selangor?

Khalid: As far as PAS is concerned, it is sorted out. The problem is we didn’t have a chance to give proper and full explanation in the mainstream media. Our position is in the middle where we acknowledge that the term is universal and can be used by everyone, but specifically in the BM translation of the bible, “Tuhan” is the proper translation for God. “Allah” is an Arabic word, while “Tuhan” is BM.

While allowing non-Muslims to use the word “Allah”, its translation should not be encouraged.

However, we are still open for discussion. Currently, the decision made takes into consideration society as a whole. The official stand taken by PAS leadership and Majlis Syura (spiritual council) acknowledges problems exist in society.

It is an eye-opener for current society for us to even say the universal term can be used by everyone. It shows that PAS takes consideration the realities of society and will be more open. After Pakatan takes over, the issue can be discussed, and won’t be politicised anymore.

Has the sacking of Selangor exco and former member Dr Hasan Ali, affected the party?

Khalid: There has been no impact because of his departure. PAS is not built around individuals. Regardless of who leaves the party, the party will still carry on.

In the past, we even had presidents leaving the party, but we carried on. Of course, it is sad to see colleagues change. Hasan tried to bring in strong Malay elements, that’s why the party rejected it.

We don’t have to bring in the element of race to strengthen to party. We believe in religious ideals and principles. Race is race; it is not principles, ideology and vision.

We talk about religion and its teachings, and not based on the colour of birth. What he wanted to do was alien to the party. Hasan did well for a time, but in the end it was his strong belief that led to his downfall.

In your own words, can you tell me more of your achievements as MP?

Khalid: My role is categorised into four levels: parliamentary, state, local council, and grassroots. As an MP, I voice out my opinions and put pressure on the federal government to get certain things done in Shah Alam.

The main issue is the building of the Shah Alam Hospital, which is behind time. I have been criticising the way it was awarded, its delay and how its implementation was handled. I speak out on corruption, the deficit budget and ballooning national debt, as well as on safety and security in the country.

On the state level, I take part in Pakatan’s weekly meetings and give input with respect to state government policies. At the same time, I also assist the government to disseminate messages and explain policy decisions. There has been a lot of confusion because our policies have not been given due promotion.

On the PBT (local council) level, I act independently without interference. I act as a go-between for the rakyat and local council. If there are services not provided to the rakyat, I will inform the PBT. At the same time, I convey messages from the PBT to the public. The intention is for the public to get the best possible service.

I look into roads, drainage, utilities and the rest. The pressing issue at that point in time when I took over as MP was the “cow head demo” at the Hindu temple. I finally managed to shift the temple to Section 23, albeit to an industrial area but along a main road.

It has been a longstanding issue of over 20 years, and having solved that, the Malay-Muslim residents who complained that the temple was smack in middle of their housing area, is happy and the Hindu population is satisfied with a bigger and more comfortable area.

I managed to satisfy the needs of both communities without them being at loggerheads with each other.

At the grassroots level, I move around and meet people. I listen to their complaints. I meet them in mosques, malls, and even coffeeshops. I try to be as visible as possible. Currently, it’s demanding because I’m involved in a lot of talks, but I make it a point to be in Shah Alam everyday.

Article courtesy of FMT
-The office of MP for Shah Alam-

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