Malaysians can hold violence-free gatherings if they are not provoked, says a PAS leader.
ALOR SETAR: The massive crowd which gathered at the PAS “hijau” (green) rally here last night demonstrates that Malaysians can gather peacefully in large numbers if they are not provoked by certain quarters, says a party leader.
News reports indicated anywhere between 50,000 and 150,000 descended onto the tiny capital of the “Rice Bowl State” to attend the mammoth “hijau” rally, which is believed to be the last major party gathering ahead of the impending general election.
The crowd invasion sparked angry responses from Barisan Nasional, with Kedah Gerakan Youth head Tan Keng Liang posting several tweets on his micro-blogging account to complain about the huge traffic congestion, made worst since it was the school holidays.
The congestion stretched up to the Penang Bridge and several of PAS supporters on the island cancelled their trip to the rally at the Darul Aman Stadium here.
Former PAS secretary-general Kamaruddin Jaafar said the large crowd, who assembled peacefully, shows that Malaysians can enjoy huge rallies without resorting to violence.
It also reflects PAS’ style and organising ability to hold a large crowd together, he said.
In a veiled rebuttal of claims that Pakatan Rakyat had hijacked the Bersih 3.0 rally two months ago and caused it to turn violent, Kamaruddin said the hijau rally shows that PAS cherishes peaceful gatherings.
He also dismissed the allegation that the party’s security division – Unit Amal – was involved in the alleged violent conduct during Bersih 3.0.
“Their role is to maintain crowd order and to ensure the safety of the people. What happened on that fateful day [April 28] was that some protesters could have been provoked.
“If it is proven that Unit Amal members were involved, it is likely to be only a handful. We are a disciplined party,” he said.
Kamaruddin described the “hijau” programme and rally as a success and that it had met the party’s objective in raising morale ahead of a most decisive election in the country’s history.
Earlier, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang told the delegates at the state PAS complex in Kota Sarang Semut that the party must defend all of the seats it won in the last election.
This would hold the party in good stead to deal with the political impact after the electoral outcome of the next election, he said.
He also dismissed the proposed “muzakarah” (goodwill talks) between Umno and his party as just a political tactic used by the former.
Abdul Hadi said that Umno is mooting such a proposal because it wants to distract people from the fact that its support has eroded tremendously since 2004.
“What a better way to distract an enemy than with a peace offering?”
Abdul Hadi, however, agreed that PAS would continue to hold dialogues with Islamic-based NGOs, but not with political parties.
He also remained steadfast over PAS commitment to Pakatan Rakyat, saying the informal alliance of three opposition parties have agreed in principle that their prime minister would be a Malay-Muslim.
Meanwhile, PAS Supporters Club Congress chairman Hu Phang Chaw disclosed that the movement would be allocated four state and one parliamentary seats to contest in the next election.
This clearly shows that PAS does advocate a multi-racial concept, Hu said.