21st Century PAS

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Malaysia’s Islamist party speaks the language of inclusiveness and balances itself between conservatism and progressiveness. This is in no way an easy task.

On the eve of the 59th PAS Muktamar in November last year, outside Stadium Malawati in Shah Alam, three guitarists strummed furiously on a stage – one spinning around like a whirling dervish – while a vocalist from rock band Heart A-Tack belted out a punk-pop version of Bruno Mars’s “When I Was Your Man”.

The ensuing YouTube video of this performance drew salty reprimands, among the more polite ones being: “Unsuitable with the concept of a party with the name of Islam… PAS has changed since it implemented tahaluf siyasi (the Islamic concept of political cooperation – alluding to PAS joining Pakatan).


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