Non-Muslims to complete PAS’ national stature

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Five years after setting up a club for non-Muslim supporters, PAS is more than ready to make them card-carrying members as it moves towards national and mainstream relevance.

The 20,000-strong supporters club’s national convention last Saturday saw it passing a resolution to form a wing recognised constitutionally as a “dewan,” not unlike its Muslimat (women) or Ulamak (religious scholar).

Now all it needs is support from within the party to make it come true.

With endorsement from no less than spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, party officials say converting the club into a full-fledged wing will take less than a year, another milestone for the party of clerics that broke away from Umno in 1951 but is now recognised as having the most efficient machinery and structure within Pakatan Rakyat.

The issue is expected to be debated at the party’s 55th muktamar or assembly this week in Selangor.

PAS research chief Dzulkefly Ahmad recently admitted that as a Muslim-based party, it is unable to take over federal government single-handedly but that the party is reforming to reach out to more non-Muslims.

The implications include voting rights in party polls as well as the opportunity to contest in elections under the PAS ticket.

Previously, supporters’ club members had run under PKR, such as the club’s Wanita Johor chief Kumutha Rahman who had run for the Tiram state seat last year.

But with a growing level of acceptance from non-Muslims, especially since Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin’s defiant stand after being usurped as Perak mentri besar in February, PAS appears to have seen the merits of fast-forwarding the process of empowering the club.

Nik Aziz told the convention that the club should have been absorbed into the party a long time ago in view of the undivided support of non-Muslim members.

“The party leadership is prepared to accept them and I thank them all,” he said at the convention.

It sees a sudden burst of momentum to the proposal which was presented as a working paper to the party leadership after a retreat in Langkawi in November 2008.

Party leaders had said that it would take a few years for it to be debated, fine tuned and then gain traction among members.

Only in April this year did a technical committee form to study the proposal.

But PAS National Unity chief Mujahid Yusof Rawa who supervises the club, told The Malaysian Insider that a final draft will soon be handed over the centre committee to be vetted.

“It will be before the next muktamar even,” he said when asked if the next general assembly would see the tabling of the proposal.

An emergency general assembly would then require two-thirds of delegates to accept the motion as it deals with constitutional matters.

The club, made up mostly of ethnic Chinese and Indians, had also adopted resolutions to press the party to recognise its role in both national and state-level operations with each state to establish an advisory and liaison committee.

The club’s increasing pressure, as well as Nik Aziz’s endorsement, will likely manifest itself in the debates at this weekend’s muktamar. – MalaysianInsider