23rd April 2008
The Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) regrets Karpal Singh’s knee jerk political rhetorics to our public forum titled “Who Needs an Islamic State” held at the Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam on 20th April 2008 (Karpal tells PAS to drop Islamic state policy; Malaysiakini 22nd April 2008)
What makes it even more regrettable was that it was not evidence based and hence devoid of any grasp of the course of events in Kiara. It is evident that Mr. Karpal’s entrenched position is based on old prejudices, out of synch with the openness that Malaysia’s new politics expects.
Maybe Mr. Karpal needs to widen his reading horizons and references and heed to the investigative reporting by “alternative media” which among others wrote “PAS research director Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad was well received by the audience even though he apologised at the onset that his preparation for this morning was the bare minimum (although he added in a few points while Abdelwahab was speaking). Quoting verses from the Quran effortlessly and framing his discussion within the local context, he said that the supreme objective of Syariah is justice. Quoting an ulama, he explained: “Syariah is the public interest of humanity, avoiding harm, enriching (with) benefits.” With his witty and friendly style, he engaged the audience by explaining how the construct or form really does not matter, as what counts is the substance. For those who had long thought of PAS followers as turban-wearing mullahs, Dzulkifli came across as balanced and not rabidly religious.” (No answers, but a good beginning to a “heavy” question” The Malaysia Insider; April 21, 2008).
And to authenticate the report, allow us to quote Dr. Dzulkifli who said : “And I am of the conviction that the word called Islamic State, it is not found in the Quran anyway, and not even found in the prophetic tradition of the prophet (peace be upon him). And its almost like a derived political phraseology or conception that came a lot later…I am not here to defend a particular form of Islamic state and the idea of advocating the Islamic Khilafah or otherwise. To me this is not the be all or end all or the purpose of the Islamic movement and the Islamic political party.”
This is very much in accordance with the main theme of Dr. al-Affendi’s work, who, as early as 1991 (1st edition of the book “Who needs an Islamic state”) moved away from the idea of Islamic state as a theocratic construct to that of a modern polity based on Islamic values of justice, good governance and respect for fundamental rights, a polity that is not incompatible with the ideals of democracy. Dr. Zulkifli himself at the beginning of his talk said that “I could have been the author of this book”.
Anyone familiar with the Malaysian political scenario would know that Dr. Dzulkifli has been consistent in advocating such vision of Islamic polity since he came to prominence as the Director of PAS Research Centre under the illustrious, the late Ustaz Fadhil Noor. He is indeed instrumental in the re-invention of PAS and the party’s manifesto for PRU 12 that clearly reflects such polity.
It would be unfortunate for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) if her top echelon at the negotiating table are to be swayed readily by the mainstream press. The de facto leader of the Pakatan Rakyat and the august Pakatan Rakyat consultative council needs to rein in these dinosaurs who are much too often “celupar” and are myopic as to what constitutes fact and fiction.
That “cool, lazy Sunday”, lived up to its decorum as an intellectual discourse which has always been uppermost in the minds of the MPF board.
We even issued an invitation to YB Gobind Singh Deo DAP MP for Puchong to sit on the panel, but he politely declined for various pressing reasons. Even Imtiaz was pleasantly surprised when he remarked : “I never thought I’d be sharing the stage with somebody from PAS and actually saying pretty much the same thing.”
Malaysia post-2008 elections is embracing a new political landscape which is based on the bedrock principles of universal justice, equity and fairness and an ethno-religious discourse which is transparent, civil, sensitive yet non-emotional. Unfortunately, it would seem that there are still giants of Malaysian politics who are invariably trapped in the archaic time zones of “Jurassic Politics”.
Dr Mazeni Alwi, Chairman, Muslim Professional Forum.
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