Hammering the hudud wedge into Pakatan

By Liew Chin Tong
Mar 17, 2015

MP SPEAKS To drive a wedge is to cause hostility or disagreement between two parties. In Malaysia, the implementation of the Islamic criminal code or hudud is one such wedge that is designed to break Pakatan Rakyat, and to bolster the position of the pro-Umno elements in PAS vis-à-vis the pro-Pakatan leaders.

I may be a DAP leader but I write this piece as a former academician who has devoted four years of my younger life, a decade and half ago, to understand the internal dynamics of PAS, with several academic publications on the subject.

I see myself as a long-time friend of the PAS that strives to defeat Umno at the ballot boxes, together with all Malaysians. For me, the PAS faction that is working secretly with Umno on the basis of asabiyyah (racial allegiance) should be regarded as a common enemy by all those who wish to see a Malaysia with a new clean, trustworthy, democratic and fair government.

The hudud debate did not figure much in the national discourse, even among the circle of top leaders in PAS, since 1950s. Phrases such as “Negara Islam” and “hudud” only became popular from the 1980s onward, especially after Anwar Ibrahim joined Umno.

This was just before the April 1982 general election, which gave the then new government of Dr Mahathir Mohamad an “Islamic” credential, and during the young ulama revolt against Asri Muda’s leadership of PAS, which was seen as more Malay nationalist in orientation, at the party’s muktamar (general assembly) in October 1982.

That era of Islamisation – the battle between PAS and Umno to out-Islam each other – more or less ended with the jailing of Anwar in September 1998 when the grounds for competition between the ruling Umno and the opposition shifted to more painfully realistic issues, such as economic downturn, justice, good governance, and the well-being of the people.

Globally, even Islamists discuss real problems of every life in a holistic manner, rather than putting the focus on specific legal agenda. Most mainstream Islamists, from Maududi to al-Qaradawi and many others, stress on maqasid – the overriding objectives of syariah (Islamic jurisprudence) – rather than just hudud as a form.

Deception and backdoor

The recent hudud debate was given a new lease of life in March 2014 when Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom dangled a Private Member’s Bill option at the PAS-led Kelantan government.

The discussion between Kelantan Deputy Menteri Besar Nik Amar Nik Abdullah and the federal government took the form of a “government-to-government” arrangement, thus avoiding the scrutiny of the PAS national leadership and the Pakatan leadership council.

Without having any intention to brief the party’s central committee as well as the top Pakatan leaders, the Kelantan PAS leaders were adamant about tabling the hudud enactment on Dec 29, 2014. Alas, it was stalled by the great floods of Kelantan, which swamped even the state government offices in Kota Bharu.

Nik Amar (right) was later instructed by the PAS central leadership to attend the Pakatan leadership council meeting on Feb 8, 2015, chaired by Anwar, two days before the de facto PKR chief was jailed.

Nik Amar explained that the exercise was a minor amendment to the 1993 enactment, and Pakatan leaders were assured that they would be allowed to have a look at the draft.

On March 12, two junior Kelantan state executive councillors were sent to attend the Pakatan leadership council meeting with “no mandate” to change anything, and allegedly “too late” to do anything.

The purpose was clear. It was meant to present a fait accompli by deception.

It is sad that some people would do such a thing despite the Quranic warning that one should never resort to unfair and dishonest means.

The reasons why

The rush to present the hudud bill in the Kelantan assembly without much consultation within PAS and with its allies in Pakatan indicates certain ulterior motives.

While I believe PAS leaders and members support hudud in principle, I do not believe all of them agree with the way the issue is being handled at present. I believe Nik Amar has his own motives.

First, he is positioning himself vis-à-vis PAS leader Husam Musa (left) in Kelantan politics.

Second, from the impression I got from his briefings at Pakatan meetings, Nik Amar believes that the hudud enactment would save PAS Kelantan from electoral defeat. This means he has no confidence that PAS can win the next general election.

Third, he is preparing for a rematch with PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu in a tussle for the party’s No 2 position in the coming party elections. He lost to Mat Sabu two years ago.

Fourth, Nik Amar is of the view that hudud can improve PAS’ vote share nationally, despite the fact that many of the PAS seats outside of the Malay heartlands were won with non-Muslim votes.

Why the rush?

Pushing the hudud enactment by deception as well as using the back door without wider consultation can only serve Umno’s interest. The timing is so perfect for Umno, which is facing numerous scandals and crises, and on the verge of losing power in the coming general election.

Therefore, the collapse of Pakatan would mean Umno wins by default when there is no more alternative coalition contesting against it.

Perhaps the enthusiastic rush for the Kelantan hudud enactment is not really about expanding justice. If it is, why the rush? Why can’t more deliberations and consultations be held?

It is all about political positioning.

Sadly, it’s the people of Malaysia, including Muslims, who will suffer yet again, if or when Pakatan breaks up over this badly-managed issue. And Umno will return with a vengeance.

LIEW CHIN TONG is the MP for Kluang and DAP political education director.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 - 7:50 pm

    What really surprise me is PKR silence and inaction over the issue – apparently even their PKR member in Kelantan voted for. Azmin in particular don’t get it he will lose his MB post now?

    Anyway, the damage is done. Its likely PASMa and PKR will make excuses to try and recover but the damage is too deep. DAP is better off deciding who among them would be opposition leader in Parliament after the next GE and their own succession planning as well as recruiting Dayaks in Sarawak and Sabahan..

  2. #2 by Noble House on Thursday, 19 March 2015 - 4:09 am

    Congratulations, Umno Baru! You have your wishes made. This is precisely what the extremists out there have been waiting for to spread their ideology and, eventually, their atrocities. You can have all the laws you want such as Pola, Bola, or Gila, etc., and they will say that Sharia law is above all and there is nothing you can do about it. The rest of us better put on a parachute.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Thursday, 19 March 2015 - 3:04 pm

    So, NO more words/talks lah, time 2 say BYE2 n sever relationship liao
    one knife/cut two pieces 一刀两段 lor
    CAN or not, DAP & PAS?

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