I refer to Lone's letter 'Islamic state: When will Keadilan speak up?'. Allow me to share my thoughts with Lone and the like who seem to believe that democratic politics is all about periodic and public declaration of stands and positions against other parties, or challenging others to do so.
By its very ideology, activities and composition of leadership and membership, Keadilan is a multi-ethnic party for all Malaysians. It has also repeatedly declared that it defends the present federal constitution which is also upheld by Umno, MCA, PAS, DAP, Gerakan, PRM and all other legal parties in Malaysia.
Indeed, through its association with PAS and PRM in BA, Keadilan (and PRM) has quietly achieved a great deal in bridging the communication gap between PAS and non-Muslims. PAS has also positively adjusted to the multi-ethnic and multi-religious reality of Malaysia and the world. It is a constructive engagement with a socio-political force that is part and parcel of the overall reality in Malaysia.
For example, PAS has reaffirmed its commitments to parliamentary democracy, multi-ethnic approach to poverty eradication, and support for universal human rights and press freedom. In Kelantan and Terengganu, the cultures and religions of non-Muslims are preserved in accordance with the federal constitution and the positive teachings of Islam. PAS also fully supports Chinese and Tamil school systems which are, like the Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR) proud institutions of the Malaysian society.
Of course, some measures of regulating the entertainment industries and public order are subject to public debates and discussion, but that is only normal the world over. Don't tell me that in Australia, UK or the US, one is totally free to consume alcohol or to gamble without any legal restrictions as to, among other, age and places.
PAS has to compete with Umno. Seen in this context, until and unless Umno drops its so-called 'Ketuanan Melayu' ideology and repudiate its 'Islamic state' declaration, it is not fair to demand PAS to unilaterally disarm its ideology which is an antidote to Umno's racism and authoritarianism.
Let us face reality: PAS and the socio-political and historical forces it leads or inspires cannot be eliminated by making hostile or unfriendly declarations. Only trusted friends and allies can hope to constructively engage PAS and sharing with it positive ideas to progressively unload its historical baggage, and to transcend the present limitations. Patience and wisdom are always needed in the politics of alliance.
Keadilan is also not a debating club in secondary schools or universities. Like Umno, MCA, PAS, Gerakan, DAP, PRM and all political parties in the wold, it has to balance between ideals and reality. It also has to interact with supporters who are from different socio-economic, cultural, religious, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.
Seen in this realistic context, Keadilan leaders and members, especially non-Muslims, are only being socially and politically responsible for not pandering to Islamophobia, and the whims and fancies of the lobbyists of vice industries. I salute them for not being tempted into noisy opportunism and dangerous populism.
True leadership in democratic politics is not only about reflecting public opinion, but also educating and improving the quality of public opinion. This is what makes Keadilan unique