Tenang: UMNO, don’t spoil the advantage!

Sakmongkol AK47

My preceding article has created a mild storm. I have offered a frank assessment of the chances of the PAS candidate. The assessment may not be true but I have given reasons for my thinking so. If you counter argue by casting aspersions as to the abilities of your adversary – that could only mean, you don’t have substance in your arguments. We can disagree politely I hope.

The thrust of the essay was my assessment on who is going to win. It’s not a debate on halal or haram of shaking hands between persons who are not muhrim. Most of the commentators like I who touched the subject are layman in so far as expertise on the subject is concern. The proper debate should be conducted by the experts in the field. I am not easily taken in by the argument by one commentator that he/she has done some research on the subject; to what level if I may ask? The authenticity of your sources? Your own level of understanding on the subject? Research by a form 3 student is not the same as research by an undergraduate.

As to the PAS candidate, she has all the admirable qualities as a winnable candidate. The first time I encountered a similar behavior was sometime in 1975 I think. I visited a relative in what was then Pantai Dalam who had just taken a young bride from his home state of Kelantan. When we were introduced, she used her selendang to buffer hand hands doing handshakes. This was very civilized and spiritual I thought. So, if cikgu Mala chooses this method it’s admirable.

Then, we only need to ask, will this element be her advantage? To me, it’s good she displays the pious qualities. The merits go to her as a person. Will that be beneficial to society as a whole, is another question. Ok, I can understand the angst some people have at a somewhat liberal view of such pious act. It’s like comparing a person who is pious and a person less pious but street-smart. A person’s piety brings goodness to himself but the other person’s street smartness brings good to the greater number. So which one will you choose?

That’s when an admirable quality can in fact turn into a liability. The people making a judgment on her are not made up of her brothers and sisters, or those who, if they come in physical contact with her, does not require her to renew ablution ( ambil wudhu’) or 80 year old non lecherous men. Though I know of some octogenarians who is still at it (including even kings).

It is admirable that she goes around wearing gloves and shakes hands. This is demanded by the Shafie School of Islamic jurisprudence as practiced here in Malaysia. It is also noteworthy to be aware that the other schools of Islamic jurisprudence do not share this strictness. Above all, this isn’t the main issue I wrote of in that article. The article was about who is going to win. Winning will depend on the ability to establish one’s relevance in Tenang. Given her constitution, will she be more relevant than the BN candidate? We should be debating that.

No one raises arguments against the FELDA support, the non FELDA Malays and the Chinese in Tenang who vote on practical considerations. Instead everyone seems to zero in on the issue her choice not to shake hands with menfolk barehanded.

We shall leave the acrimonious exchanges. I like to be fair to the opposition too. Now, I offer my thoughts on the BN candidate.