Monday, February 17, 2014

We’ll make Kajang a showcase of unity: Anwar, February 16, 2014
by Chen Shaua Fui

            Let us lead the way in dialogue, said Anwar.

KAJANG (Feb 16): PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he will prove to the Kajang voters that they would make the right decision by supporting him, in response to a question on whether he would become the next Selangor Menteri Besar.

"Cikgu Robert Tan, Sir, support me in Kajang, and we will prove to you, this is the right decision," Anwar said in responding to a question from a retired teacher and committee member of the Holy Family Church of Kajang.

Tan had asked: "If you win the Kajang by-election, will you become the Menteri Besar? If you say yes, then I would say 'yes, I will vote for you.' If you say no, I will say no, I won't vote for you. If you say 'I am not sure', I am not sure who I will vote for."

Despite the general belief that the forcing of a by-election in Kajang, dubbed the ‘Kajang Move’, was orchestrated by PKR to let Anwar take over the state leadership, Anwar has however not clearly stated this, although he has been asked numerous times since he announced his candidacy on Jan 28.

Anwar had said "let us cross the bridge by winning the by-election first' in response to this question.

Speaking to a packed hall of mainly local residents, Anwar said that Kajang will be showcased as an examplary unified community that leads the way in dialogue.

"Some people have said that Kajang is just a tiny little town known only for its satay.

"We don’t think so. Yes, the satay is legendary. But Kajang is much more. In many ways Kajang is a mini-Selangor in the way that Selangor is a mini-Malaysia. We have a good mix of the various communities and it is in this diversity that we can showcase Kajang as an exemplary unified community. 

"So, let us lead the way in dialogue. Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and followers of other faiths, let us go beyond mere tolerance and achieve greater understanding and appreciation," Anwar said.

"Go back to the Constitution"

Anwar put on many hats today. At times, he was the moderate Islamic leader who preached about the "courage of hope" and the courage to speak against racial and religious intolerance.

At times, he was the Malay leader who promoted the idea of ending the race-based New Economy Policy to move on to a need-based affirmative action policy that would help all Malaysians in need.

Anwar did not gave a definite answer to the question on whether Malaysia is a secular or Islamist state, but asked the audience to consider the meaning and context of  being a secular state or an Islamic state.

He said, in France, it is a complete break between state and religion. However, in the United States, there is a strong Christian sentiment expressed in politics, among both the Republicans and Democrats.

"What is my position? I have avoided using either Islamic state or secular state. I have appealed to people  to go back to the Constitution....Constitution guarantees: we have freedom of faith, freedom of expression, rule of law, justice. We can all agree on this," Anwar said.

Focus on real issues

He also reiterated the position of Pakatan Rakyat on the use of the word "Allah", affirming that non-Muslims were free to use the word, although he acknowledged that there was a fear factor within the Muslim community that the people would be confused over it.

"If the Muslims are worried about this, we have laws (that forbid preaching to the Muslims by non-Muslims). Don't give the Bible to the Malay boy in the village.

Anwar again stressed the position of the Pakatan Rakyat to push for a "National Consensus", under which both BN and Pakatan Rakyat will put aside partisan and personal interest for the sake of the common good.

"So, our priorities must be focused on more pressing issues: such as proper governance, greater transparency and accountability for acts done in the name of power," Anwar said.

He said issue of the rising cost of living and crime rate are real issues that burden the people and this should be the priority of the national leadership.

The meeting was organised by the Holy Family of the Church of Kajang. Anwar was received by Father George Harrison, the Parish priest of the Church. Many Pakatan Rakyat leaders also attended the event.

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