PETALING JAYA: Lim Kit Siang says the message contained in a former Thai minister’s remarks at a regional conference on democracy resonates with him on the state of the country and ties between PAS and DAP.
Referring to the remarks by former Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan, a Thai Muslim who is also a former Thai foreign minister, the DAP supremo said that Surin’s take on Islamisation and what it meant in the 1980s compared with more recent times reflects the break up of former opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat.
“Surin said right up to the 80s, Islamisation used to be a good word where people integrated Islamic values and norms into every aspect of their life including in education, work and economic development.
“However, now, he said, the meaning has taken a turn to becoming more restricted, less tolerant.
“I find Surin’s view most relevant for Malaysia, as what he said mirrored DAP’s relationship with PAS, as in the changes in PAS under the leadership of Abdul Hadi Awang as compared to the previous more open, tolerant and inclusive policies of leaders like Nik Aziz Nik Mat, Fadzil Noor and Yusuf Rawa,” Lim said in a statement.
On Saturday, at the conference entitled “State of Democracy in Southeast Asia: Achievements, Challenges, Prospects” in Kuala Lumpur, Surin said a restrictive and limited form of education was generating a shallow mindset among Muslims.
“There is an emphasis on the fundamentalist message that it has to be interpreted in one way and no other way.
“Islamisation has become identical to communal politics, which is not a fundamental message of Islam. Islam has to be a message of goodwill and a blessing for all mankind.
“The world is a diverse space. If our way is the only way exclusive of the rest, then that will turn us into an island. An island of insecurity and lacking confidence in interacting with the world,” Surin had said.
Lim, who is Gelang Patah MP, said the former PAS leadership of Nik Aziz and Fadzil Noor had recognised this as well.
“Under their leadership, PAS became a party to the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework and advocated a ‘PAS for All’ welfare state, but under Hadi broke up Pakatan Rakyat and now has become the greatest apologist and defender of Prime Minister Najib Razak and the 1MDB scandal, where a vote for PAS will become a vote for Umno.
“Under Hadi’s leadership, friends became enemies and enemies became friends.”
The DAP parliamentary leader added that his party supports Islamisation based on the Federal Constitution, with nation-building built on tolerance and mutual respect in a plural society.
Emphasising that, Lim said that Malaysia should follow closely the views expressed by the speakers at the conference on “State of Democracy in Southeast Asia: Achievements, Challenges, Prospects”.
“Another speaker, Michael Vatikiotis, Asia director for the centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, who was formerly editor of Far Eastern Economic Review, warned that the use of religious fundamentalism by a dominant party in the ruling federal government will divide the country along religious and racial lines.”
According to Lim, Vatikiotis had said: “I worry that the aspiration for a Malaysian society has been lost because today’s politicians want people to identify with their race and their religion more than before.
“We should be very concerned. This has not happened to the same degree before. We heard on the panel and in the conference that everyone is expressing concern on this.
“The government’s use of divisive issues like race and religion is a concern for everybody.”
Supporting Vatikiotis’ words, Lim said this is a trend which all Malaysians must be concerned, for we want everyone in the country, regardless of race, religion or region, to become more Malaysian-minded and to be Malaysians first, and their race, religion, politics or socio-economic position second.
“Only then can Malaysia succeed, flourish and prosper.”