“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
This famous statement attributed to, Voltaire (1694-1778), the great French philosopher in the 18th Century, is always easier said than done.
It takes great humility, not mere tolerance, to concede what you hate has the right to be communicated.
It takes a great sense of fairness, not sheer honour, to defend with your life the freedom to communicate what you hate.
Such quality is therefore always in short supply, especially amongst the pious and the political, who often happen to be the most self-righteous.
It was therefore a sweet surprise to read PAS’s first formal response on Hindraf. In the penultimate paragraph of the five-paragraph statement, PAS says it “sees that part of the demands and accusations by HINDRAF as extreme and therefore demand the Government to immediately establish an independent body to investigate [such accusations]”.
The statement titled “Right to assemble acknowledged, but some Hindraf demands extreme” however begins with an unequivocal defense of the constitutional freedoms of speech and of assembly.
Even if you think this is merely sweet talk to fish the non-Muslim votes, it is at least capable to do so. The skeptical amongst you can, and I shall join you, condemn PAS if one day it threatens others’ freedom of expression (as some of its leaders did) and freedom of assembly. You can then also quote its own words here to remind its hypocrisy.
For the moment, I want to praise PAS for the maturity and sophistication demonstrated in this statement. Too often parties and NGOs like to make police report so that others may be charged for sedition or complain why others were not charged for demonstration.
Even if only for the show at this moment, this PAS ala Voltaire is still too precious an example.
Hak berhimpun diakui, tetapi sebahagian tuntutan Hindraf melampau
In another report, PAS was reported to have started discussions with UMNO on issues related to Malay-Islam interests. Its Deputy President Nasharudin Mat Isa however denied any plan of a coalition government between the two Malay-Muslim parties.
Once bitten, twice shy. I do not think PAS will be stupid enough to repeat its 1973 lesson of allying with UMNO. A source within PAS claimed that it was Nasharudin’s naive response to journalist’s question when there is really no any plan of UMNO-PAS cooperation. You can keep a watchful eye.
After all, no parties or politicians are to be trusted unreservedly. You praise them when they do well and scold them when they make mistake. They need training before they can serve you well.