By Jumaiti Rosly (Bernama)
KUALA LUMPUR, July 23, 2008. Dialogue or 'muzakarah' to resolve problems facing the Malays and Muslims in this country is not a new phenomenon in the political history of Umno and PAS.
Such meetings or discussions between leaders of both parties took place during the time of second prime minister, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, in the 1970's when the parties wanted to strengthen Malay unity following the May 13, 1969 racial riots and to set off the agenda of raising the living standard and economy of the Bumiputeras.
In the current scenario, many feel that such a dialogue should happen sooner than later when the Malays are confronted with various challenges and also in the interest of Islam. Malay sovereignty and special rights of the Malays which have been daringly and openly questioned, apart from the need to increase their economic share and to raise their educational performance, is among the major issues that need to be addressed.
Some political analysts have expressed their views on how important it is for the 'muzakarah' to take place in the current political climate amidst the hurdles to be overcome. Universiti Utara Malaysia lecturer, Assoc Prof Mohd Fo'ad Sakdan, said discussions between political parties with different ideologies had been held before, and therefore the question should not arise why Umno and PAS could not sit down and talk.
Citing that such talks involving the Chinese were held before between the MCA, Gerakan and DAP, he said there were issues that could be the focus of the Umno-PAS 'muzakarah'. "There are certain principles to abide by, but the common issues for Umno and PAS are Islam and Malay rights and interests," he told Bernama. Mohd Fo'as who is with UUM's Law and Public Administration Faculty, said the 'muzakarah' concept was not new, so the question of why PAS and Umno could not hold more dialogues in the interest of the Malay community should not arise. He said obstacles and conditions should also not be set in holding the talks. "We should set aside political principles and remind ourselves that at the end of the day, what matters is Malay unity," he added.
The statement by PAS' spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, asking that the Umno - PAS dialogue be stopped immediately has raised questions because the meetings held between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and some PAS top leaders had received the green light from the party's Ulamas Consultative Council and supported by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang. Nik Abdul Aziz, however, regarded the 'muzakarah' as a political gimmick by Umno and if the effort continued, it would have a negative impact, such as causing a split in the Islamic-based party.
Meanwhile, Assoc Prof Dr Ahmad Nidzammuddin Sulaiman from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, said Nik Aziz's stance in the matter was a point of interest. He said Nik Aziz was of the opinion that the PAS leaders involved in the meetings with Umno leaders did that in their personal capacity and were not representing the party. "Tuan Guru (Nik Aziz) did not relent that PAS, as a party, engage in a dialogue with PAS.
The dialogue is important but the question is, why now when Umno is in turmoil. "Why didn't Umno call for the dialogue when they won a huge majority while problems facing the Malays have been there for long, whether in the economic or educational field, or in science and technology?" said Ahmad Nidzammuddin.
He said he preferred to see 'muzakarah' among Malay leaders involving other quarters as well, such as leaders from the Malay chamber of commerce and industry, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Sarawak and Malay non-governmental organisations. "The best thing to do is to set aside political ideologies for a while, to think about the future of the Malays and raising their socio-economic status. "And in organising the dialogue, the question of offering PAS to join Barisan Nasional and vice versa should also not arise," he said.-- BERNAMA
No permanent friend or enemy in Politics, but permanent Interest.