Sunday, December 20, 2009

Inaugural Pakatan Rakyat Convention

The very first Pakatan Rakyat convention on December 19, 2009 should be applauded because it showed many people that there is hope for a viable coalition of these three ideologically different political parties to challenge the UMNO-BN stranglehold on our country.

As Din Merican wrote in his blog: “We as Malaysians now have a choice between a corrupt, racist, and repressive one that characterizes UMNO-BN and Pakatan Rakyat which seeks to unite the rakyat and whose policies, plans and programs are founded on justice for all, and honest, open and transparent governance”.

Excerpts from the weblog on the three keynote speeches made by the titans of Keadilan, DAP and PAS can hopefully convince those of us who have yet to embrace the possibilities of a new Malaysia:

“Anwar Ibrahim was the first to take the rostrum. He was at his best with his ‘switch with suppleness from Bahasa Malaysia to English and back, sprinkling some Mandarin and a modicum of Tamil along the way’ (Terence Netto)...His intellectualism and keen grasp of ideas are there for all to see.

Lim Guan Eng was inspired, drawing on his years of political experience. He spoke with extreme confidence as his intense eyes pierced into the audience. His use of Islamic phrases won him many friends, especially PAS members in the audience who obviously understood his message. His us eof ‘amar maaruf nahi mungkar’ (Arabic for enjoining the good and forbidding the bad) and pantun – a dig at UMNO-BN – brought down the house.

Ustaz Abdul Hadi was the last speaker for the morning session. He told the audience not to equate Islamic rule with inferences from UNMO’s example of it, for which he received a round of applause. This is the first time I saw in the PAS leader a man well versed in the history of Islamic civilization, liberally quoting the great historian Ibn Khaldun, in particular the concept of mesyarakat madani (civil society). It was an impressive display of his intellectual depth and openness as he articulated his ideas with panache.

This audience was assured that PAS under the Hadi Presidency is not the ‘devil’ that UMNO tries to depict via its massive propaganda machine. On the contrary, it is a party and a key member of Pakatan Rakyat which is willing, ready, and able to take on the task and responsibilities of governing a plural society. I was personally impressed with his delivery and breath of vision. It is no small wonder; this gentle Ustaz is surrounded by a team of Islamic intellectuals, who embody his progressivism within the Pakatan Rakyat’s common policy framework”.

I certainly agree with Din Merican that Pakatan Rakyat has made an important beginning. The Malaysian road ahead is certainly full of challenges and possibilities, and they have to learn to navigate adroitly and avoid the many potholes that can steer us from our journey.

But our hope has been rekindled: We can trust and believe in government again.

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