Walski received the following in the mail today. It’s an urgent joint-statement that has been distributed for endorsement. Because Walski is an army of one, he thought that the best thing to do would be to post it.
JOINT STATEMENT BY MALAYSIAN CIVIL SOCIETY ON PAS RESOLUTION TO BAN SISTERS IN ISLAM
We the undersigned are deeply disturbed by the call on the part of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) to have Sisters in Islam (SIS) banned and its members rehabilitated should its activities be determined to be contrary to the Islamic shariah. It is apparent to us that in making the call in the manner that it has, PAS has already formed the view that SIS should be banned and its activities brought to an end.
While we respect the freedom of members of PAS to associate in a manner that they consider appropriate or warranted as well as their freedom to express a view in association on such matters as they see fit, the members of SIS, or any other organization for that matter, are equally guaranteed those freedoms. No one person or organization has a monopoly over the right to express views on matter of public importance. The call to silence SIS and send its members for rehabilitation is an act of violence against those freedoms and their constitutional underpinnings. It also lends itself to further closure of the already narrow space of public discourse and debate that a slew of anti-expression laws have allowed Malaysians.
For Malaysia to mature into the democracy that Malaysians aspire to, it is vital that diversity, even of views, be protected and nurtured. Respect for the freedoms guaranteed to all Malaysians by the Federal Constitution, be they members of PAS or any other organization or simply individuals, is crucial to this endeavor.
The demand for action against SIS culminating in a ban is not easily reconciled with PAS public rhetoric in favour of a more democratic and inclusive Malaysia. On the contrary, the demand is wholly anti-democratic. We reiterate that though members of PAS are entitled to their views, the call for the banning of SIS is wholly unacceptable. As a matter of principle, the question of banning any organization purely for their views should not arise at all. Differences of views must be respected and, if at all, be resolved through constructive engagement.
In view of this, we urge PAS to reconsider its position and take such steps as are necessary to retract the call for action against SIS.
The statement above has been mooted by HAKAM – The National Human Rights Society. If you happen to belong to an organization that would like to endorse the statement, the endorsement should be sent to HAKAM, care of Azareena Aziz (email@example.com), or fax it to +60 3 7785-8737. Do note that your endorsements need to reach HAKAM by noon tomorrow (Wednesday, June 10th).
(reactions from all over, and more, in the full post)
The PAS resolution passed during the recent party general assembly calls for the investigation, and possible banning of Sisters In Islam, and the rehabilitation of it’s members if the organization is found to be anti-Islamic.
Already, PKR and DAP have denounced the resolution (via The Nut Graph), which seeks the Fatwa Council to investigate the NGO. The Bar Council president, Ragunath Kesavan, in a press statement released yesterday expressing alarm, stated that “Dialogue and debate should be the preferred way forward when there is opposition to another’s views, not the silencing of those views”.
Similar condemnations of the resolution have thus far been made by BN component parties women’s wings (namely UMNO, MCA and Gerakan), and the Family & Community Development Minister.
Strangely enough, despite the fact that individual PAS muktamar delegates, such as Dr. Lo’ Lo’ Mohamad Ghazali and Dr. Siti Mariah Mahmud, have called for engagement with SIS (as opposed to banning), the resolution has received support by some quarters.
As Walski had expected, PKR dickhead from Kulim, Zulkifli Noordin is in full support of the resolution, as reported by The Nut Graph, and published on his own blog. Apart from his dickhead-ish behavior, he also looks like one with the perpetual donning of the skull cap. Which looks a size or three too small.
Funny how some people think that by wearing selected articles of clothing, they somehow become more pious. More holier than thou, maybe.
In any case, Walski digresses. As if the resolution by PAS weren’t enough, Zulkifli Noordin also called for five further actions to be taken against SIS: (via The Nut Graph)
- For the police and Attorney-General's Chambers to investigate if there have been any police reports lodged against SIS, and if there are, to charge SIS under Section 298A of the Penal Code.
- For the Islamic departments to investigate SIS and its members in order to take punitive action if they have violated the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactments.
- For the National Fatwa Council to call for a muzakarah (discussion) to decide on what to do with SIS, and also call SIS to explain themselves. Zulkifli said if SIS failed to explain satisfactorily, the National Fatwa Council "should declare them deviants as it did with (Sky Kingdom cult leader) Ayah Pin (Ariffin Mohamed), the Al Arqam group and so on."
- For SIS to cease and desist "using" the daughters of ex-Umno leaders in their activities because "this would weaken the resolve of the authorities to take action against them".
- For PAS to challenge SIS to a muzakarah or open dialogue.
Zulkifli Noordin has a well-known track record for promoting suppression to quell expression of opinions he doesn’t agree with. Most notably was his involvement in the protest against the Bar Council forum in August last year.
Number 4 on his list of demands above, incidentally, is actually quite a stupid one to make. If it is true that SIS “uses” the daughters of ex-Umno leaders, why the hell would they want to desist, and what right does he have to insist that they do? Furthermore, what probably escapes Zul Noordin’s suffocated noggin is that whomever is involved with SIS actually support the NGO’s cause.
But naturally, this is par for the course for folks like Zulkifli Noordin, always assuming that they, and they alone, are on moral high ground. Just like Walski’s favorite nutcase, MENJ, who has chosen to label SIS as “Sisters In Shaitaan”, because of his own jaundiced views of what the NGO is about.
Freedom of expression, for these people, is freedom for them (and only them) to express themselves, and insisting that dissenting views be silenced. In Walski’s book, this type of behavior is bona fide hypocrisy. It’s equivalent in Arabic, of course, being MUNAFIQ.
Be that as it may, Walski still believes that these nut jobs have the right to express their dissenting views. Because freedom of expression means that dissenting views, as much as you may not agree with them, be allowed to be heard.
As an individual, however, Walski FULLY, AND WITHOUT RESERVATION, endorses the memorandum by HAKAM, and urges you to do the same, if you support the freedom to express one’s views.