Joint Statement by Malaysian civil society on PAS resolution to ban Sisters in Islam (SIS)


We the undersigned are deeply disturbed by the call on the part of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) to have Sisters in Islam (SIS) banned and its members rehabilitated should its activities be determined to be contrary to the Islamic shariah. It is apparent to us that in making the call in the manner that it has, PAS has already formed the view that SIS should be banned and its activities brought to an end.

While we respect the freedom of members of PAS to associate in a manner that they consider appropriate or warranted as well as their freedom to express a view in association on such matters as they see fit, the members of SIS, or any other organization for that matter, are equally guaranteed those freedoms. No one person or organization has a monopoly over the right to express views on matter of public importance. The call to silence SIS and send its members for rehabilitation is an act of violence against those freedoms and their constitutional underpinnings. It also lends itself to further closure of the already narrow space of public discourse and debate that a slew of anti-expression laws have allowed Malaysians.

For Malaysia to mature into the democracy that Malaysians aspire to, it is vital that diversity, even of views, be protected and nurtured. Respect for the freedoms guaranteed to all Malaysians by the Federal Constitution, be they members of PAS or any other organization or simply individuals, is crucial to this endeavor.

The demand for action against SIS culminating in a ban is not easily reconciled with PAS public rhetoric in favour of a more democratic and inclusive Malaysia. On the contrary, the demand is wholly anti-democratic. We reiterate that though members of PAS are entitled to their views, the call for the banning of SIS is wholly unacceptable. As a matter of principle, the question of banning any organization purely for their views should not arise at all. Differences of views must be respected and, if at all, be resolved through constructive engagement.

In view of this, we urge PAS to reconsider its position and take such steps as are necessary to retract the call for action against SIS.


Postscript: Found this note on Farish Noor’s Facebook Notes.


7 Comments on “Joint Statement by Malaysian civil society on PAS resolution to ban Sisters in Islam (SIS)”

  1. donplaypuks says:

    This is a clear demonstration that PAS should never be voted in to form the Federal Government because it is a harbinger of the kind of Taliban and Iranian direction these bigots will take it to if they hold the reins of majority power.

    Never ever trust a political party that has religion as its credo!

  2. dinobeano says:


    The decision by PAS to ask the National Syariah Council to ban Sisters in Islam and rehabilitate its members which was taken at its 55th General Assembly caught most of us by surprise. PKR has asked PAS to reconsider its position since it violates freedom of speech and the right of SIS to its fundamental freedoms. Let us hope good sense will prevail.

    A friend told me that PAS is an enigma.I wonder what your views are on this issue.–Din Merican

  3. cendana287 says:

    I keep forgetting to add you back to my RSS feed (at “the other” blog, of course) now that you’ve started to blog again. I finally remember just now when I’m in the blog housekeeping mood. Took out Jed Yoong since she’s not writing anymore (she’ll be back, mark my words).

  4. anakpakross says:

    Hmm where to start on this one. Are we reading too much into this remark by PAS? Or are we in this region of vicious circle, everyone is right in their own perspective.

    If PAS claims to be the championed of Islam, and their remark is ‘to ban certain organization if they are found to be against the teaching of islam’, is that wrong? Surely it is to others, but what about PAS’s reason of existence? Now if we say, PAS shall not do that, are we imposing our ‘ban’ on PAS ideals? Are we more right than PAS?

    Is there a level of acceptance where everyone can be happy? Maybe PAS is too extreme and should tone down. BUT what is an acceptable level? Is DSAI/PKR consideration to call for banning Utusan and TV3 any different? Is Penang, Selangor and previous Perak admin displeasure with the press any different? What about certain ADUN suing the media and all? Does this not amounting to similar attitude towards people with opinion different than ours? After all PAS made their claims within their own muktamar.

    A bigger issue I guess that have people very unconfortable is how does these group of PAS and DAP will share the same driving seat. With ideals that are poles apart, who has the last say on what is right. Can we really say, oh we’ll come to an agreement when the time comes? Really.

  5. Gadfly says:

    When those PAS members or leaders decide that SIS should be banned and the members be rehabilitated, it is showing its tail of authoritarianism and tribalism. Also, it shows that their intellectual power to examine, evaluate and empathise other perspective is rather feeble and weak.

    “When you fight against a monster, beware that you yourself may become the monster.” – Nietzsche.

    PAS has fought against the BN government for banning this and that. Now, in this case,perhaps a bit drunk with the taste of power, it has lost its sense of proportion. Perhaps the root of the problem is that PAS categorises human being into two types – Us or them. This sows the seed of endless prejudice and discrimination, manifesting more in times of insecurity, like being subjected to the distressing challenge of alternative interpretations of Islam and thereby resulting in the fear of losing the power to monopolise interpretation.

    It is not only money can corrupt, the fear of losing interpretative power also corrupts, in particular the religion followers.

    If you ask people to shut-up, the opportunity to renew and to re-invent itself is lost also.

  6. ruyom says:

    I hope everyone studies this carefully crafted article by Awang Selamat (Utusan), one of the best apologists and spin doctors Umno has to offer us, and reflect on the cynicism, hypocrisy and corruption that opportunists hope might appeal to backwards feudal mentalities so beloved of those who walk the corridors of power in Putrajaya.

    Let us examine the Awang Selamat article.

    When Awang Selamat writes the malays have been betrayed, then he is keeping very good company indeed. Adolf Hitler repeatedly wrote the Germans have been betrayed by the minority Jews. Karadzan Milosevic repeatedly said the Serbians have been betrayed by the minority Bosnians.

    Robert Mugabe repeatedly said the Zimbabweans have been betrayed by the foreign West. The BJP regularly say that the Hindus have been betrayed by the minority Muslims.

    Nevertheless I am certain that the Malays nowadays are not as uninformed as Awang Selamat and his political masters in Umno would like to believe.

    The fact is, Malaysia is fast becoming another basket case country – and the most important thing if you can’t fix the problem or won’t fix the problem is that – Umno can still make sure they win the next elections by fixing the blame.

    There is rampant theft by Umno elites, wholesale corruption by Umno cronies whereby the rich and connected malays are entitled to rob the poor and everybody else under the guise of social justice via the NEP, Umno nepotism in the leadership selection process, a fixed judiciary by Umno, a fixed police by Umno and a fixed electoral commissions by Umno.

    Why should Umno leaders fix the problem when they are getting richer by the minute via corruption, cronyism and nepotism?

    Awang Selamat like other Utusan hacks have been hired to do the job for Umno – make sure Umno can fix the blame onto the non-Malays via a good dose of racist rhetoric, scare mongering, hate mongering, bigotry and ethnic xenophobia – straight from the serious and weighty editorial section of Utusan.

    They all have been victims – the minority Bosnian Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, minority Jews in Nazi Germany, minority Muslims in BJP India, minority whites in Zimbabwe and of course, the minority non-Malays in Malaysia.

    There are no prizes for guessing who is being prepared for the role of the fall guy, scapegoat and bogeyman by Umno in Malaysia – it is Hindraf, the Bar Council, Bersih, DAP, PAS and PKR.

    Adolf Hitler, Karadzan Milosevic, Robert Mugabe, BJP and Umno gangs all have one thing in common – they became obscenely powerful, filthy rich while their countrymen suffered, starved and died for it.

    All the while their leaders shouted – traitor this and traitor that – as if the louder they shouted the more easily their lies could be believed.

    Luckily there are a lot of Malay-Muslims in Malaysia who think for themselves, and not swallow everything Utusan tells them to. How stupid do Umno spin doctors think the rakyat have become?

    As for rich Umno elites getting contracts and scholarships, and poor bright non-Malay students not even getting a place in our higher institutes of learning, this is Umno version of social justice – what a joke, what a travesty, what a monstrous lie.

    The fact is Umno cannot make enough money to support their mansions, exotic cars, and wives without stealing from you and me – so Umno version of social justice will always be Umno steals from everybody – you should know by now Umno loves stealing from the poor because the poor are just such easy targets – Malays, Chinese, and Indians – semua di makan oleh Umno – sedapnya!

    Awang Selamat appears aggrieved that today generation of Malay Muslim leaders might actually believe in freedom, equality and fraternity. He might be upset that some Malay Muslim leaders are trying to preach goodwill and compassion to everyone – regardless of race or creed.

    I suppose this is a shocking betrayal of Umno apartheid policies where in Malaysia today you can be threatened, mollycoddled, scapegoat-ed or jailed strictly on the basis of your ethnic origins.

    As a word of caution, I am sure the boys at Utusan will mix it up for their readers – sound conciliatory at some times and then sound racist xenophobic at other times – because even the most stupid people will be able to see through their ploy.

    So recently when Muhyiddin ostensibly tells Utusan off in public for being too racist, what he actually means is this – You Utusan hacks are fooling nobody so please change tactics for now – later when the climate is more conducive, then you can try being racist again!

    Whether the average Malay thinks Awang Selamat is talking sense or nonsense, it is immaterial to me as I have already emigrated to a country where they insist on equal citizenship, equal opportunity, inter racial solidarity, freedom of speech, rule of law, and freedom of religion – and they insist you get it for free.

    Although I love my place of birth, and I am used to racial and religious idiocy from people like Awang Selamat, I see no good reason why my children should have to put up with the same institutionalised racism in a rapidly declining Third World basket case like Umno apartheid Malaysia.

    In future, it won’t really matter if the next generation become university graduates or not because the Malaysian public universities will be so rotten that the degrees will be just worthless pieces of paper. What future will the kids have then?

    The fate of Malaysia will always be in the hands of the malays. I hope they will choose wisely but then again, it is way too late for me and my family, because I am busy creating a life for myself abroad.

    With people like Awang Selamat to lead the way for Umno, in spite of the pain of separation from old friends and family in Malaysia, and loneliness I feel abroad, I smile to myself every time I read Utusan, because I definitely know I made the right decision leaving for a country abroad that actually has a future.

  7. Paul Warren says:

    I think it is about time that these PAS do gooders be given a taste of their own medicine. If they think they have the god given right to impose their ideas and their sense of morality on others, we should also be able to do the same. If they say their God gives them the right, we too can make the same claim.

    So here goes my resolutions:

    1. Men should not wear any headgear that suggests to others that they are “holier” than them where the headgear acts as a symbol of any claimed holiness. (The Sikh’s turban being just part of their dressing has never been claimed to be a symbol nor has it been claimed as a symbol of piety or holiness and is therefore excused.)

    2. Men should not wear robes or gear that pretends to show piety or holiness where such piety or holiness is only sustained by the claims made by the person upon himself.

    3. Any person holding themselves to be subject to the injunctions usually found imposed by their religious observations should at no time also contradict such injuctions by words or deeds that might show them to have prejudice, hate, deceit, corrupt, or any act of compromise of those injuctions.

    Well…those are my contributions….others can add to this.

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