The biggest news headlines in the past two days have been the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal and its latest edition, the RM188 million 1MDB-Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH) bailout with LTH paying 1MDB for 1.56 acres of Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) land at RM2,773 per square foot, which is 43 times more than 1MDB had acquired from the Federal Government four years ago at less than RM64 per square foot.
Events are unfolding at rapid pace in UMNO over the ability of Datuk Seri Najib Razak to survive as Malaysia’s sixth Prime Minister and UMNO President.
Just before coming on stage, for instance, I read on the Internet of the blog by former Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim about a top secret meeting in Milan between Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and several UMNO bigwigs to discuss his possible takeover as Prime Minister, but Zaid admitted that this information was unverified and he did not know how reliable was his source.
But what is certain is that Najib has declared war on former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir who had asked Najib to resign as Prime Minister on the ground that UMNO/BN will lose the next polls under Najib, as the Prime Minister had for the first time made a fighting speech in Tawau in Sabah vis-à-vis Mahathir’s attacks on him.
All this raises the question, whether UMNO/BN could be toppled in the next 14th General Elections.
The answer is a categorical and a positive “Yes”, as the results of the 13th General elections in 2013 have not only showed that the Najib Federal Government is just a minority government with 47% of the national vote, but seven State Governments in Peninsular Malaysia, namely Terengganu, Kedah, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang and Johor could change hands in the next general elections, as the UMNO/BN has secured less than 55% of the total state votes cast in the last general elections – Perak (45%), Kedah (50%), Terengganu (51%), Negri Sembilan (52%), Melaka (53%), Pahang (54%) and Johor (54%).
However, this “Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to topple UMNO/BN as Federal Government and seven State Governments in Terengganu, Kedah, Perak, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor could only be achieved if Pakatan Rakat (PR) can continue to grow from strength to strength with increasing and widening support and confidence from the voters in Malaysia.
But all these opportunities may be lost if Pakatan Rakyat cannot even survive next month!
I will not be able to answer the question whether there will be a Pakatan Rakyat a month from today – and this is an indication of the crisis Pakatan Rakyat is facing in its seven-year history after achieving the most astounding results in the 13th General Elections, denying the UMNO/BN coalition the majority vote the first time in Malaysian electoral history.
I am still hoping that Pakatan Rakyat can remain as a political force to be reckoned with provided all the Pakatan Rakyat component parties remain true, sincere and faithful to the PR Common Policy Framework as well as the PR consensus operational principle that no one political leader or single political party can make or veto any decision arrived collectively by consensus of all three PR parties.
The Pakatan Rakyat stalemate and crisis have arisen not because of hudud but because of PAS leadership’s failure to abide by the PR Common Policy Framework and the PR consensus operational principle, and unless both these principles can be restored, it is impossible for PR to continue to be a political alternative to Barisan Nasional and a political force to be reckoned with, as both the credibility and legitimacy of Pakatan Rakyat would have been severely damaged.
I was recently on a week-long study tour of Jordan and Egypt with four DAP Members of Parliament, Teresa Kok (Seputeh), Liew Chin Tong (Kluang), Zairil Khir Johari (Bukit Bendera) and Steven Sim (Bukit Mertajam) meeting local intellectuals and activists and with Malaysian students in Amman, Mafraq, Irbid, Karak, Alexandria and Cairo where we learned not only about the political developments in these two countries but also the concerns and aspirations of Malaysian students in the Middle East.
We also visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan near the border with Syria, which houses over 80,000 Syrian refugees fleeing from the violence of the Syrian civil war.
As I told Malaysian students in Alexandria and Cairo, it is a disservice to Islam to lump those who have differences of view with regard to hudud and its implementation as anti-Islam, as this will not only be lumping the first five Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah, but also UMNO as “anti-Islam”, and even those who had co-operated with UMNO as “anti-Islam” – which would include PAS which had formed a coalition government with UMNO for four years from 1973 to 1977.
Jordan has over 92% Muslim population while Egypt has over 95% Muslim population. Both countries do not have hudud.
The debate in Egypt and Jordan on whether hudud should be implemented is a very active one.
Are we to regard the majority of the Muslims in Jordan and Egypt as anti-islam because hudud has not been implemented in both these countries?
Furthermore such an attitude would have grouped Islamists and Islamic scholars who have differences of views about immediate implementation of hudud as “anti-Islam”.
Renowned scholar Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Chairman of the International Union of Islamic Scholars (Kesatuan Ulama Islam Sedunia) has stressed that Sharia cannot be divided up into sections with some accepted and others rejected as Sharia must be applied in all its aspects, and not just Qisas and Hudud which represent only a small part of Sharia.
Sharia (the literal meaning of Sharia is “the path Allah intends people to follow”) includes religious, civil, moral, cultural and commercial rulings. It governs personal, family, national and international relations. All these are included under the rubric of “Sharia Law”.
In Egypt, I read the criticism by Islamic scholars about “misguided Islamization by demanding that people fulfil their duties before receiving their rights” as “Islamic law is an undivided unity, within which the Hudud form only a small part”.
The Islamic scholars upheld the priority of Islamic law, which first gives people their rights before demanding their duties.
They contend that the state should first satisfy the rights of its citizens, which include their natural entitlements to food, clothes, education, health, transportation and housing, and that these basic needs of the people must take priority, in other words, they envisage Hudud at the end, and not at the beginning of the spectrum of duties vis-à-vis rights.
Are these Islamic scholars anti-Islam?
I am not a Muslim and I am not anti-Islam, and the overwhelming majority of non-Muslim Malaysians are not anti-Islam.
We in Malaysia should therefore not make the mistake of lumping those who have differences of view with regard to hudud and its implementation, whether Muslims or non-Muslism as anti-Islam, creating the myth of an enormous number of people in Malaysia who are “anti-Islam” than is really the case.
The greatest political challenge facing Malaysians today is whether we can build on the momentum created by Pakatan Rakyat in the past seven years, based on the PR Common Policy Framework, to continue to hold high an inclusive policy which is capable of uniting and mobilizing Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region to achieve our Malaysian Dream of a united, free, just, harmonious and progressive society for all – starting with the toppling of the UMNO/BN Government in Putrajaya and in the seven states of Terengganu, Kedah, Perak, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor in the 14GE.
(Speech at the “Kukuhkan Pakatan, Hancurkan Barisan” ceramah perdana at Padang Perdana, Kota Bahru on Sunday, 10th May 2015 at 10.30 pm)