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By dotcommissar

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 - women.

the irony, however, was lost on diplomats and journalists dazzled by the apparent transparency of debates and discussions at the party convention.

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 mat.

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 their partners.

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 the moment.

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.

"A nation which attempts to establish an Islamic state causes social unrest and threatens economic development."
- Abdurrahman Wahid a.k.a Gus Dur -

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