Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Get your yellow T-shirt ready. BERSIH2 may just happen.

Tomorrow begins the 56th PAS convention in Kelantan, the political bastion of the oldest Islamic party in the country.

PAS has come a long way from the youthful days of spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat and president Hadi Abdul Awang.

From being a beacon of light and religion for the devout Muslims, it is now carving a vision of hope for multi-religious Malaysia. Leading this agenda is the new generation of women and youths and non-Muslim supporters.

PAS has formed its non-Muslim wing whose members will observe the proceedings this time around, while its Youth and women wings will chart the next course of action for the 13th general election.

Said PAS Youth convention chief Suhaizan Kaiat: “We will not wait. We will act, in a collective fashion, the way we have moved our people on the ground over the sports betting issue.”

Sports betting is expected to be the hottest and most exciting topic at the convention. PAS youths have been at the forefront of the campaign against gambling.

“We demand that the government revoke the licence legalising sports betting,” said Suhaizan, referring to the the permit issued to Berjaya Corporation Group (BCG) in time for the the World Cup football season which kicks off on Friday in South Africa.

The federal government is reportedly expected to rake in RM60 billion in tax revenue from a wide range of betting activities as the World Cup gets under way. BCG has said that apart from retail outlet sales, there will also be online and telephone betting facilities.

Both Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and BCG’s Vincent Tan have come under tremendous public pressure over the issue.

While during the day delegates will rip apart and dissect the federal government’s “socially destructive” decision, the nights will be a gathering of like-minded souls in sports and prayer in this Islamic state, which has been under PAS rule for over 20 years.

“Sports betting is only second to our top issue, which is the Bersih 2 gathering.

“In November 2007, our Bersih gathering had urged the Umno-Barisan Nasional government to fulfil our four demands. But to date nothing has happened.

‘In this convention, we will urge the PAS leadership to hold a Bersih 2 assembly,” said Suhaizan.

Land swap deal

Bersih is a coalition of NGOS for a clean and free election. Its four-point demand included the use of permanent ink, an electoral list clean-up, abolishing postal votes, and ensuring press freedom.

During Bersih’s first gathering on Nov 10, 2007 some 100,000 Malaysians had marched to Istana Negara to hand over a memorandum to the King.

It was a historic movement of people. This, together with the Hindraf rally, set the pace for an unprecedented shift in the country’s political landscape.

PAS together with PKR and DAP under the Pakatan Rakyat coalition banner wrested five states in the 2008 general election. However, within months of its victory the coalition lost Perak to BN in a reverse takeover.

Suhaizan said the other hot issue is the land swap deal with Singapore involving Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd's (KTMB) parcel of land in Tanjung Pagar.

Najib had last month agreed to shift KTMB from Tanjung Pagar to Woodlands.

Najib had reportedly said that KTMB’s railway land in Tanjung Pagar would be swapped for land parcels in two of Singapore's most expensive districts, including the site of the multibillion-dollar Marina Bay Sands casino complex which opened in April.

Said Suhaizan: “ The PM said he will discuss the matter with Singapore.

“We want to know what is going to be discussed since he has already made the deal. We don’t want Malaysia to lose out.

[Source : FMT]

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