Beggars unabashed by their alms-asking

Terence Netto

Modified 19 Sep 2017, 7:01 am

COMMENT | PKR yesterday persisted in preferring ambiguity to clarity in its stance towards Pakatan Harapan, of which it is a component, and in its position towards PAS, from which it is still trying to cadge an electoral pact.

Worse than PKR’s failure to admit it cannot simultaneously be committed to Harapan while pursuing an electoral pact with PAS, which is unremittingly antagonistic to two of Harapan's components, is what its position, overall, tells of the void in PKR's ideology.

Accentuating the puzzle is that the PKR leader intent on navigating these resultant rapids is the one who a little more than three years ago laid an ideological platform for the party when launching his bid to defend the post of deputy president.

Azmin Ali's enunciation of the contours of a liberal democratic platform for PKR, in a campaign-launch speech in April 2014, was more impressive than anything Anwar Ibrahim – whose travails triggered PKR's formation 15 years earlier – has done, ideologically, for the party of his inspiration.

The speech's most salutary aspect was the way it paid an observant Muslim's deference to Islam (Azmin said he was keen to show how the religion was “rahmatin al-amin” [A blessing for mankind]), without going into details.

This was sound, because Islam translated into political terms is a banana peel: a liberal democrat is bound to slip up on it.

Renowned Islamic scholar Rached Ghannouchi of Tunisia came to this realisation in the middle of last year. Accordingly, he announced to his Ennalda party: “We are leaving political Islam…we are Muslim democrats.”

Last December, Anwar endorsed, in an opinion piece in the Guardian, this shedding of the shroud that has hitherto clouded the vision of Islamists.

If you had read Azmin's campaign-launch speech, what he said then placed him more than two years ahead of Ghannouchi's and Anwar's arrival at their separate but similar “We are Muslim democrats” denouement.

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