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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

PAS mulls non-Muslim candidates for next election

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — PAS will consider fielding non-Muslim candidates in the next general election, following the formation of the PAS Supporter’s Congress (Dewan Himpunan Penyokong PAS).

In what is seen as a move to dispel fear among non-Muslims towards the Islamist party, PAS will hold the congress on May 23 to legitimise the congress as a separate wing and grant it powers to “propose a non-Muslim nominee to stand for the general elections.”
According to PAS National Unity Chairman Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the birth of the supporter’s congress was part and parcel of a “legitimisation” of the non-Muslim wing in PAS, which had originally started out as the PAS Supporter’s Club back in 2004.
“The status of the ‘dewan himpunan (congress)’ is officially recognised by the PAS party constitution... the major difference between the supporter’s club and this congress is that previously, there was no legal entity, no legitimacy. With the ‘dewan,’ there is now legal standing, recognised within the PAS constitution. The ‘dewan’ even has its own rules and regulations,” Yusof told reporters here today.
The Parit Buntar MP said the top leadership from the congress would also be attending top PAS leadership meetings, in addition to PAS meetings at state and divisional levels.
“We will allow them (PAS supporter’s congress) to channel their views, voice out their concerns. We are also giving them an opportunity to propose nominees to stand for elections,” said Yusof, who noted that the congress’ main focus would be to garner support from the non-Muslim populace.
PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub added that the question of a non-Muslim standing for elections under a PAS ticket was “not an issue, as it is allowed under the party constitution.”
However, he explained that members of the congress were not PAS members, as one of the requirements to join PAS is to be a practising Muslim.
“Members of the supporters’ congress are not PAS members... the stipulation to join the congress is that they are non-Muslim and Malaysian.
“But, as of now, they cannot join PAS because the party constitution states that to be a member of PAS, you have to be Muslim,” said Salahuddin.
The PAS vice-president, however, said that “nothing was impossible in the future” and did not want to rule out the possibility of constitutional amendments to include non-Muslims as full-fledged PAS members in the future.
“Nothing is impossible, even the country’s constitution has been amended… the future may see changes, but for today, it will stay this way,” said Salahuddin.
According to him, the current membership of non-Muslims in the congress officially stands at 20,000 and most of the members were Chinese, Indians, Siamese and a small number of Orang Asli.
N. Balasubramaniam, chairman of the PAS supporter’s club, claimed that the unofficial number stood at “over 50,000 members, with 14,000 in Selangor and 18,000 in Perak.”
Hu Pang Chaw, founder of the supporters’ club back in 2004, said the reason why he helped form the club was because he believed that PAS was a “multiracial party” which looked beyond race.
“I wanted to take a challenge back then and prove to people that PAS had been wrongly perceived as racist. I believed that I could change that perception and now PAS is being accepted by non-Muslims,” said Hu.
The supporters’ congress ceremony will be held at the multi-purpose hall of the Klang district and land office, and will be officiated by PAS president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.


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