Pakatan leaders likely to close ranks

Opposition coalition will most likely reach an accommodating and conciliatory stand to appease Kelantanese and also the larger segments of Malaysians, say analysts.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Despite hogging the headlines the last two weeks, the hudud controversy is unlikely to break the opposition coalition but instead will force it to focus on common policies, say political analysts.

They were asked to comment on the possible outcome of Pakatan Rakyat’s meeting tonight which will be attended by the top brass of the coalition, like PAS president Abul Hadi Awang and DAP chairman Karpal Singh.

Political analyst James Chin said that the hudud issue has been lingering since the Islamisation process which former primer Dr Mahathir Mohamad started in the 1980s.

“The current controversy is merely a political game which has little impact on the electorate. It’s being blown up by the mainstream press in order to break up Pakatan,” said Chin.

He does not foresee a break-up of Pakatan but rather the controversy will force the coalition to focus on common-ground policies such as the welfare state.

Chin said that social justice was part of Islam’s message, adding that there would be little compromise on behalf of PAS, the Islamic party in the coalition.

The controversy surrounding hudud began when PAS spiritual leader and Kelantan Menteri Besar, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, said that he would want to implement hudud in Kelantan.

His call was backed by PKR de facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim, last week.

Playing to the gallery

Alarmed, DAP openly criticised PAS over the matter with Karpal vehemently voicing his opposition, saying that Pakatan leaders had agreed to support a secular state.

Nik Aziz likened DAP to “a small child who is scared of ghosts”, saying that hudud had nothing to do with non-Muslims and thus DAP had no reason to oppose it.

This locking-of-horns between two coalition stalwarts, Chin said, was normal as both bigwigs of the coalition were trying to “play to the gallery of their supporters”.

“Do you expect Karpal to say otherwise? Or do you expect the spiritual leader of an Islamic party to say that he does not support hudud?” asked Chin.

When asked if the voters were savvy enough to understand that this was a political game, the Monash University lecturer nodded in the affirmative, saying people knew that matter was an old one and a non-issue.

Another political analyst, Abdul Aziz Bari, echoed Chin’s sentiments, saying that tonight’s meeting will be “conciliatory and accommodating” as there were larger issues to focus on.

“Judging by the cordial meetings among the coalition’s secretaries-general a few days ago, I think it is going to be conciliatory and accommodating to all. They will appeal to the Kelantanese and to the larger segments of Malaysians,” he said.