25 May 2010

A new wing is born

Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa   
PAS as an Islamic party rejects any narrow interpretation of race, and consequently any racial form of political struggle. It is a fact that throughout its history, PAS has never been known as a racist party.

This fact in itself speaks volumes of the party’s universalism in both its philosophy and struggle.

Banking upon this strength, PAS has made an initiative to live by its philosophy by introducing the CCC (Chinese Consultative Council) in the early eighties, in order to break through the wall that separates PAS from non-Muslim communities in this country.

As a result of the initiative, the Chinese community has become more informed of PAS’s struggle compared to the early days. PAS has achieved a breakthrough during this period by holding gatherings and ceramahs at Chinese temples and halls.

These outreach programmes were slowly attracting the Malaysian Chinese population, but were not strong enough to break the walls. In the late nineties, an Inter-Racial Department was formed by the party but did not make much inroads.

It was on the eve of the 2004 general election that a new effort had been underway to reach out to non-Muslims, with the setting up of the PAS Supporters Club (Kelab Penyokong PAS) announced by then acting president, Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang. A year later, the Club became part of the party’s apparatus.

The National Unity Bureau undertook the task of expanding and enhancing the Club’s concept which later on turned to be a milestone towards making PAS acceptable by the non-Muslims electorate.
Today, after five years of focus and continuous expansion of the Club, the Party leadership has conferred formal recognition of the Club’s contribution by agreeing to the birth of a new wing within the party to move forward in its multiracial approach.

By virtue of Article 26 (9) (g) and (h) of the party’s Constitution, the Dewan Himpunan Penyokong PAS was launched on May 23, 2010.

The prelude

On the eve of the 2004 general election, the PAS Supporters Club was set up to attract the support from non-Muslims especially the Chinese. At its infant stage, the Club had a difficult time in reaching out to its target group. This, however, did not deter the strong will of the Club’s proponents to continue with its main objectives.

The 2004 election results did not help the Club much in reaching out to the Chinese. Soon after, it started to focus on dialogues and intellectual discourses on PAS’s objectives and political goals.

Within a year, the Club became a well known among the non-Malays as an inseparable entity in PAS.

Between 2006 and 2008, its activities gained momentum and moved forward without turning back its efforts to establish a footing among the multiracial electorate of Malaysia.

By early 2007, the Club reached out to the Indian community in what was a historic event held at the then PAS headquarters in Taman Melewar.

The chairman, in his speech, put it aptly: “Today the Indian community has erected a strong and lasting bridge to the moon..”

In the mid 2007, it made its way to the remote areas of Sarawak where for the first time the Iban ethnic group was exposed to PAS’s political ideology.

The second trip to Sarawak bore fruits when ten Long Houses agreed to set up a PAS Supporters Club for the Ibans. A group of independent medical doctors provided the residents of these longhouses free medical checkup and consultation.

The Siamese community were also not deprived of PAS’s message with the formation of the Club to reach out the Siamese community in Kelantan, and later in Kedah.

On the eve of the 2008 general election, the Club was already a known player and acted as conduit to reach voters especially during campaigning.

‘PAS for All’

The National Unity Bureau was instrumental in the Club’s activities and operation. It held a contest to come up with a logo that could symbolize the concept of “PAS for All”.

The winning logo, currently in use, bearing the image of a globe, the Malaysian and PAS flags, indicates the responsibility of national interest, and shows the written words “PAS for All” in Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English as a mark of solidarity among the major races in this country.

On September 11, 2007, the logo and motto were officially launched by Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz at the PAS headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Today “PAS for All” has become synonym to PAS and during the 2008 Muktamar held in Ipoh, “Pas for All” underlined the theme for the presidential address.

Conventions

The PAS Supporters Club has held three conventions. The first, in February 2008, was held in Penang in conjunction with Chinese New Year with the theme “We Support the Welfare State”, followed by another in May 2009 in Klang, Selangor, themed “Stay United and Brave the Challenges”.

One main focus in 2008 was to restructure the Club by updating its membership data and organize its information campaign in the various states.

By 2009, the issue of expanding the Club’s concept to become an integral part of the PAS structure, and for it to gain recognition, was already the talk of the top leadership in PAS.

The process of absorption

Efforts were underway to make the Club as a recognized body in the party, beyond its present status as merely an initiative under the party’s National Unity Bureau.

With a membership of about 20,000, PAS needed another approach to accept the large presence of non-Muslim within its folds.

The Bureau prepared a paper entitled “Non-Muslim Membership in the PAS Organization” during the leadership retreat held in Langkawi in December 2008. The paper gave several options pertaining to the status of non-Muslims in the Islamic Party. Its suggestions were unanimously accepted, with the party leadership agreeing to a thorough technical analysis to be tabled.

A technical committee headed by Ustaz Hassan Shukri (right) considered an expert of the party’s Constitution, then prepared a draft of the rules and regulations for this proposed new entity.

During the first reading of the draft in Alor Setar in June 2009, several suggestions were accepted. The second reading in late 2009 saw few more clauses added and amendments made.

The final reading on January 10, 2010 was concise; the party’s powerful Central Committee decided unanimously the Draft of Rules and Regulation to be accepted, paving the way for the official launching of new wing before the 56th Muktamar in June 2010.

Thus was born “Dewan Himpunan Penyokong PAS” (DHPP), or the PAS Supporters Congress on May 23, 2010.

The way forward

The Murshidul Am of PAS Tuan Guru Nik Aziz (right), the president, Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang and the rest of the leadership have high expectation of the new wing.

The multiracial politics of today must be dealt with wisdom. It is hoped that DHPP being a new frontier of the party can help realize the task of effecting change in the country’s political culture.

DHPP must become a good example of how the various communities in the country can be united under the banner of PAS.

Although it is a ‘newborn’ in PAS, we are confident of the role it could play in bridging unity and ultimately prove to the world that PAS is ready to lead and make the change that Malaysians dream of.

As PAS’s anthem goes:
 
“With peace PAS shall strive,
Guiding the people in the field of politics,
With the Qur'an and the Sunnah by its side,
It shall flourish…”

* The writer is Chairman of the National Unity Bureau of PAS.

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