Bar Council: Embrace Diversity And Engagement

The Malaysian Bar is alarmed at PAS’s statement that the views of Sisters in Islam (SIS) threaten the faith of Muslims, particularly the youth and those with secular education, and its call on the National Fatwa Council to investigate SIS and to potentially ban the organisation and send its members for rehabilitation.

We note that even if there is disagreement with the views propagated by SIS in its struggle for gender equality in Islam, the resolution of these differences cannot be by banning the organisation or its views. Dialogue and debate should be the preferred way forward when there is opposition to another’s views, not the silencing of those views.

We are heartened to note that despite the resolution, two PAS delegates called for engagement with SIS. YB Dr Lo’ Lo Mohamad Ghazali and YB Siti Mariah were reported to have advocated for a more open attitude and engagement with SIS.

As Malaysians, and particularly as a political party with aspirations to represent all Malaysians, PAS should be open to diverse opinions and be able to accept dissenting views. It should adopt a policy of engagement and discussion. We call on PAS to move away from the typical Malaysian political approach of imposing a ban merely because of disagreement over differing viewpoints.

Engagement should be a key element of an agenda for change.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar Council
8 June 2009

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