[A-List] Malaysia: Parti Islam SeMalaysia
soncu at pacbell.net
Thu Dec 5 23:27:08 MST 2002
Can someone familiar with Malaysia comment on this? Maybe Tariq?
Tariq, you are closer to Malaysia than most of us. Any ideas,
The Straight Times - December 5, 2002
PAS gets tips from Turkey on how to win elections
KL opposition learns it needs to talk less about setting up an
Islamic state and talk more about graft and the economy
By Brendan Pereira
KUALA LUMPUR - If Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) drops its
affection for fiery verse and conceals its theocratic leanings in
the run-up to the next general election, the changes could be the
result of a recent visit by its leaders to Turkey.
A delegation from the conservative party visited Istanbul on a
two-fold mission to congratulate Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the
victory of his Justice and Development Party in the polls and to
find out how the Islamic party had won over an electorate in a
The PAS team came away with loads of election material and a tall
order to follow.
It would have to dump threatening rhetoric, focus on earthy
issues such as corruption and the economy, and talk less about
setting up a theocratic Islamic state.
A senior PAS official told The Straits Times: "The victory in
Turkey has really inspired us. We believe that we can adopt many
of the strategies used by Mr Erdogan and his colleagues."
"But the key issue for PAS is to convince some of our leaders and
our supporters that a change in style does not mean that we are
abandoning our core beliefs."
On Nov 3, the Justice and Development Party won 34 per cent of
the Turkish vote, a stunning victory for an Islamic movement in a
country where secularism is entrenched and guarded by the
But unlike his predecessors in other Islamic parties, Mr
Erdogan's campaign was marked by moderation.
He spoke about the need to feed the poor, create jobs and tackle
corruption - and he skirted religious issues.
When he was asked whether his wife would wear tudung at public
functions, he said he would not take her along. This approach
found favour with many Turkish people.
PAS vice-president Mustafa Ali, who led the delegation, says he
was impressed with the organisation and commitment of Mr
But he ruled out masking his party's fundamentalist agenda,
saying it had to be honest with the electorate: "In Turkey,
politicians cannot use the word Islam, but it is different here.
We have to be direct with the people."
Still, he said the party should tone down its rhetoric and focus
on broad-based issues that would appeal to all Malaysians, not
"We are trying to change but it will not happen overnight. We
know that only if we get the support from non-Muslims can we
govern Malaysia one day."
The PAS leader said an important lesson gleaned from the Turkish
election was the importance of having a charismatic leader who
could attract support from all segments of society. Mr Erdogan
had been the focal point of his party's campaign.
His efficient performance as Instanbul's mayor and clean image
drew support even from those who feared that the rise of an
Islamic party could threaten the future of a secular Turkey.
Said Datuk Mustafa: "To me that is the key. To have a charismatic
leader who is the focal point of the campaign that people from
other races and religions can respect."
And did PAS have such a candidate?
"No, not yet," he replied.
The conservative Islamic party made significant gains in the 1999
general elections, but non-Muslims continue to be suspicious of
its Islamic-state agenda.
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