Kuala Lumpur : “Tonight, we build a bridge that stretches from earth to the moon!” thundered N Gobalakrishnan at the PAS headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Gobalakrishnan is the head of the newly formed PAS Indian supporters club, which was unveiled amid much fanfare and fiery speeches last night.
PAS is an Islamic-based opposition party that has always faced obstacles in winning the support of non-Muslims.
But Gobalakrishnan, who also heads the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) national integration bureau, believes that a new era has dawned.
In his speech, he said the formation of the Indian supporters club is another bridge between PAS and non-Muslims.
No oppressionHe also said the launching of the club signaled the breaking of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) race-based politics and end to the exploitation of the Indian community here.
“PAS can provide us shelter where Umno has failed. PAS (state governments) have never been known to oppress other races,” he said.
Some 50 Indian Malaysians from Selangor, Perak and Kelantan were among the 600 people who packed the hall.
Their presence was bolstered by a small delegation of non-Muslim Chinese who had come to join as members of the PAS Chinese supporters club which was set up last year.
The club - headed by Hu Pang Chow from Kelantan - is said to have 400 members nationwide. Among them is Ng Chee Pang, the 22-year-old independent candidate who contested in the recent Batu Talam by-election in Pahang.
“PAS steady… PAS party baik (good),” said Ng when met at yesterday’s event.
Unfounded fearsEearlier, PAS national solidarity bureau chief Mujahid Yusof Rawa during his speech said multi-racialism was enshrined in the party’s constitution when it spoke of the aim to “foster racial unity in the country.”
He said the success of the Chinese supporters’ club in improving awareness about PAS among the community was reflected in the club’s need to increase its Chinese-language monthly bulletin from 5,000 to 50,000 copies.
PAS will also publish a Tamil-language monthly bulletin to educate the Indian community about the party and its struggles. It is also planning the set-up similar clubs for the Kadazans and Ibans in east Malaysia.
PAS vice-president Mohammad Sabu had the audience in stitches when he spoke derisively of the fears that have been perpetuated by the rivals of PAS to keep non-Muslims from supporting the party.
For example, he said, many Chinese non-Muslims were told that coming under an Islamic party such will lead to the males being forced to undergo circumcision.
“What are they afraid of?” he asked, adding: “Hu (head of the Chinese supporters club) is here to testify that his condition still remains in the original state.”
Meanhwile, businessman Rajandran Batumalai from Batu Caves, Selangor, said he and his friends heard from the Indians in Kelantan about PAS’ equalitarian policies and treatment of non-Muslims.
Rajandran, a former MIC member, said many Indian youths in BN-ruled states were deprived of advancing socially and economically because of racial discrimination.