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PAS on the path to power?
May 19, 2012 by Dr. Farish A. Noor
Q. But of course the immediate question is: Does this mean you are not going to interfere into the private domain of citizens?
Dr. Dzul: ‘I suppose you are asking if we will do ‘moral policing’? The answer is no. No, because that is not the business of the state and unfortunately all the sort of moral policing we have seen in Malaysia is something PAS has never endorsed; and nor have the other non-political Ulama and religious scholars endorsed any of it. Why? Because the private space of citizens is inviolable, and there are plenty of examples in Muslim history, even going back to the time of the Caliph Umar, when Muslims have been told again and again: The private space of citizens is not to be controlled. All the noted scholars of today, Ghannouchi, Qaradawy, Malaysia’s own former Mufti Ustaz Asri Zainal Abidin, agree with this: The state cannot penetrate into the private domain of the citizen, even for the sake of policing his/her morality which is private. That distinction between the state and the private sphere must be maintained, and the state should not be given such maximalist power.
So our Islamist politics can only operate in the public sphere, the public domain, and the role of the state is to regulate that public domain so that citizens’ liberty will be protected and enhanced, not diminished, for the sake of the overall public good.
Q. And this mode of limited, or even minimalist, governance, is going to be your model? A transparent system?
Dr. Dzul: ‘Yes, it has to be – which is why I emphasise the separation of powers and multiple checks-and-balances. Like I said, by virtue of being in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition we already have our first check, which comes from the other component parties.
People think that as soon as Islamists come to power they will ban everything, control everything, forbid everything. But like I said we are democratic constitutional Islamists. By binding ourselves to the democratic process we are exposed to due process and scrutiny: from our political partners, from the public, from the media. Also because we need to be careful of the ‘deep state’ where power is unseen and held in the hands of a few who are not accountable. This is what we need to avoid, and the only way to do it is to remain committed to the democratic system.’