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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nik Aziz offered discussion on religion, not unity govt

Wong Choon Mei
BHARU, Feb 6: PAS Spiritual Adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat invited Umno to discuss religion and religious issues, with special focus on finding a way forward in the Allah row, and not on politics or forming a unity government as Prime Minister Najib Razak and his cohorts are trying to imply, PAS leaders said.

“I am sure Umno knows what Tuan Guru Nik Aziz meant but as usual they must twist and turn everything into polemics that are for their own benefit and not for the community or the country,” Kota Bharu MP Wan Rahim Wan Abdullah told Harakahdaily.

“You see, Umno’s understanding of Islam is very low. It is high time they brushed up on their knowledge and it is actually with this in mind that Tuan Guru offered discussions, especially now when our society is going through so much conflict.”

Trying to tear Pakatan apart 

On Thursday, Nik Aziz – who is also Kelantan Mentri Besar – had suggested discussions with arch rival Umno after attending a seminar on the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.

"I want discussions on Islam between PAS and Umno. Fifty years of quarrelling - what's the benefit? Umno has wasted a lot of time, expertise and funds fighting Islamist movements like PAS. Nothing achieved except endless quarreling," Nik Aziz had said.

His comments were immediately seized on by the Umno-BN media as meaning that PAS was now ready to dump its Pakatan Rakyat partners DAP and PKR to set up a unity government with Umno.

Since the start of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial, Umno-BN has intensified its attempts to destabilize and create disunity in Pakatan, including making full use of its powerful media to misreport news and facts.

"All this while, I understand that in order not to offend its coalition partners, PAS was willing to ignore a very positive suggestion to unite the Malays,” Domestic Trade Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob was reported as saying.

“Sometimes Nik Aziz agrees, sometimes he disagrees and sometimes it is closed. So, I don't know his real stand. I am waiting for a firm stand from PAS. It is difficult to talk if he continues to be inconsistent," Najib was quoted as saying.

Leadership needed in Allah row, not mind games

But Pakatan leaders have not taken the bait this time. Speculation that the coalition was breaking up has been intense in the past, but PAS president Hadi Awang has reiterated time and again that the Islamist party would remain in Pakatan through thick and thin.

In fact, the three partners have already signed a Common Policy Framework and applied to the Registrar of Societies to be registered as a formal grouping.

“Like Tuan Guru has said, once bitten twice shy. PAS will never join hands with Umno ever again in any political alliance. There will never be any unity government with Umno and PAS will stay with Pakatan,” Wan Rahim said.

“We hope Prime Minister Najib will take the opportunity offered by Tuan Guru and not play games. We need to solve the Allah issue in a matured way, through discussion and consultation with all the different religious groups.

“But all we see after weeks of delay and indecision is that Umno has finally decided to reject setting up an inter-faith committee. What is it trying to do? How are we to solve the problem? These are the issues that as the two biggest political parties representing the Malay community, which is Muslim, we should discuss – preferably together with the other faiths if possible. PAS is offering leadership but Umno is playing mind games.”

The controversy over whether non-Muslims could use the word Allah has divided Malaysian society, since a December 31, 2009 court ruling lifted a government ban on non-Muslims using the word to describe God.

The landmark court decision sparked a spate of violence against places of worship in the country. Molotov cocktails, paint and stones were hurled at churches, a Catholic school, a 100-year old Sikh temple, while boar heads were flung into the compounds of two mosques.

Umno has taken the stand that Allah is for Muslims only, while PAS – which is governed by a core committee of religious experts or ulamak – has said that non-Muslims could use the word, but guidelines should be set up to prevent abuse and misuse


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