These people argue that the Islamic State issue is a non-issue, as it is inconceivable that PAS could establish an Islamic State which would require two-thirds parliamentary majority to amend the Constitution - and PAS is not going to have such a two-thirds parliamentary majority. In fact, in the last general election, they did not even contest one-third of the parliamentary seats and would not constitute one-third of parliamentary seats if all the PAS candidates had won.
I do not agree that the Islamic State question is a non-issue. In fact, I believe that it will be a bigger issue in the next general election than in the previous one, especially as the the voters would feel that the issue would no more be the denial of parliamentary two-thirds majority to the Barisan Nasaional but whether the Barisan Alternative could be trusted with toppling the Barisan Nasional to form a government of its own.
Recently, Malaysiakini carried a Internet poll on support or opposition to Islamic State, and votes in support were leading most of the way until the very end, when they were overtaken with a narrow margin by those who oppose.
The Malaysiakini poll showed keen public interest on the issue, and the result should be a matter for serious consideration - except that Internet polls have proved to be unreliable because on “hot topics”, it is so liable to manipulation that it degenerates virtually into a computer game. As Malaysian Internet security expert Dinesh Nair has pointed out, there is no way to prevent the tech-savvy from rigging Internet polls.
It is not just the DAP and Barisan Alternative, but Malaysians too who are at the crossroads to decide whether they should support BA with the unresolved Islamic State controversy or to tolerate the undemocratic and unjust Barisan Nasional rule.
On the one hand, there is the strong desire to see change in the Barisan Nasional system of governance to restore justice, freedom, democracy, accountability and transparency.
On the other hand, there is the anxiety and even fear that support for the Barisan Alternative will bring the PAS’ Islamic State objective one step closer, which will not be compatible with democracy, pluralism, human rights, cultural diversity, social tolerance, women’s rights, development and modernity and which will drive the voters back to support the Barisan Nasional.
If it is not possible to reconcile these two considerations, then the next question is whether there could be a format which could at least build on the relationship and co-operation which had been developed by memberrs of the Barisan Alternative, at least on issues of common interest.
These are weighty issues which have to be debated at this Congress.
I do not propose to anticipate the report which the Secretary-General will present to the Congress on this issue, except to state it is no more possible to return to the 1999 formula where the BA Common Manifesto ‘Towards A Just Malaysia” omitted any reference to the Islamic State, as this is an issue which must be addressed not by evasion but frontally and squarely - that a vote for BA is not only not a vote for an Islamic State, but will not bring it one step closer.
The DAP stand for a secular (which does not mean anti-religion or anti-Islam) and democratic Malaysia, and our opposition to an Islamic State for plural Malaysia, is clear and consistent. We have come out with a booklet, “BA and Islamic State”, which will show that the DAP had been fully consistent on the issue of Islamic State before and after the formation of the Barisan Alternative.
PAS’ ideology for an Islamic State is equally clear and consistent. The question is where the twain shall meet - in fact, whether there could be any meeting point.
May be possible meeting points are where PAS could concede that while it is ideologically committed to an Islamic State, the concept is not feasible or practicable in a plural society like Malaysia where over 40 per cent of the population are non-Muslims. Or where PAS could give a liberal and moderate interpretation to its concept of an Islamic State which is compatible with democracy, pluralism, human rights, cultural diversity, social tolerance, women’s rights, development and modernity.
We can further discuss and debate the Islamic State issue after the Secretary-General’s Report.
Next month, the DAP will be facing a great test in the Sarawak state general election. Let us all give our full support to the Sarawak DAP so that the DAP flag can fly high in the state.
I have said that I will leave my political future in the hands of the DAP delegates at the congress. If party delegates think that I am still of service to the party and our political cause, I am ready and available. I accept if the party delegates think otherwise. I never insist, ask or want to have a last say. No one person should have a last say. The ones to have the last say on this issue are the party delegates.