islamist parti se-islam malaysia (pas) dominant brahmins remained
untouchable and clung tightly to power at the party's annual meet
in the coastal town of kuala terengganu - capital of pas' latest
jewel - terengganu early june.
the brahmins - ulamas' in a council of their own - included provisions
to appoint ulamas at various levels in the party, ensuring their
influence remains despite an influx of professionals and god forbid -
the irony, however, was lost on diplomats and journalists dazzled by
the apparent transparency of debates and discussions at the party
pas' women, segregated from the men - opined for a change that would finally
see them contesting in general elections and even sharing the stage at the
party convention, with the tacit approval of spiritual leader nik aziz nik
but it was just a show for the congregation. pas women already have three
seats in the central committee and some personally disclosed that they
would only stand for elections if their husbands approved.
all these were ignored for the more obvious spectacle of women asking for
more rights in the strictly puritanical party - ostensibly to show pas as
a party that can rule malaysia.
that is easier said than done. and those who eagerly support pas should stay
in kelantan and terengganu for more than a week to decide if they are the
chosen ones to lead the national congregation.
the congregation in kelantan and terengganu remain enthralled although just
under 30,000 made their way to watch and listen to the party trinity speak
at the soccer stadium in kuala terengganu on june 3.
apart from the trinity of nik aziz, party president fadzil noor and deputy
president abdul hadi awang - two other fundamentalists from bangladesh and
the palestinian hamas group spoke at the three-hour event.
meanwhile, the party - in an unusual show of aggressiveness - has taken the
mantle of leadership in the barisan alternatif to the chagrin and dismay of
democratic action party (dap) chairman lim kit siang parried questions about
the opposition leadership, declaring the pact is not a formal coalition like
dr mahathir mohamad's barisan nasional.
but lim, long the parliamentary opposition leader until 1999 when he lost and
pas' fadzil noor was anointed as such, did say that political realities would
naturally make pas the de facto leader.
officially and legally, it would take seven organisations or individuals to
form a group or coalition and the barisan alternatif is short of three at
and that could even go down to three if parti rakyat malaysia (prm) - perennial
wooden spoonists in malaysia's elections - fulfills its desire of merging with
parti keadilan nasional (keadilan).
until then, the brahmins will remain untouchable.