Zaid: Anwar’s ‘Islam and democracy’ strategy superficial

Sean Augustin,

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s strategy of using Islam and democracy to draw DAP and PAS supporters for winning elections is “superficial and shortsighted”, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said.

The former de facto law minister said the acrimony between the so-called progressives and conservatives in PAS and Umno was proof that the formula will not work.

The Islamists in any political party or grouping, he explained, would not tolerate freedom of expression and personal liberty, nor would they accept human rights as understood by the modern world.

Islamists, he said, would always fight for an “Islamic model” of their choice.

“Meanwhile, the cause of democratic struggle will suffer and remain unattended. Those who value freedom and liberty will be attacked not only by (Perkasa chief) Datuk Ibrahim Ali and Utusan Malaysia but also by the groups in the Opposition,” he wrote in his blog today.

Zaid said this following the PKR de-facto leader’s talk on the compatibility of Islam and democracy in Adelaide, Australia last week.

Democracy, he said, was not just about elections but about freedom and personal liberty and the recognition of basic human rights. It was also about protecting the rights of the minorities.

“We don’t have this basic freedom in Malaysia, not even in the Pakatan Rakyat-controlled states. So how does Anwar’s Islamic model in Malaysia actually work?”, Zaid asked.

The lawyer turned politician said the country has witnessed contradictions between the fatwa and democratic principles and practices.

Zaid opined that Anawr would likely agree with Islamic scholars if the latter said that Islam came first when it came to defending human rights.

The former deputy prime minister, Zaid claimed, has said nothing about the ongoing transgressions against the country’s personal liberties.

“He has, in fact, not taken any clear position on the violation of fundamental liberties in Malaysia, except for some nice-sounding and very general statements about democracy, which he has mainly given overseas.

“He has not been a democrat in the true sense of the word. In the end, even the democrats will desert him,” Zaid said.

Instead of trying to reconcile the irreconcilable, Zaid argued that Anwar should just fight authoritarianism first.

Anwar, he said, should focus on democratic issues that are easy to understand, which are the antidote against the “authoritarian rule” in the country.