Only Karpal dares to rock the boat

It has been said many times that PAS and DAP are strange bedfellows due to their many policy conflicts. Events over the past week have served only to strengthen this assessment.

Karpal’s stand against hudud, which has moved from a constitutional and legal issue to a political argument, is that hudud and Islamic state are not in the Buku Jingga, the document that spells out the compromises thrashed out by the three disparate parties of Pakatan.

Baradan Kuppusamy, The Star

LET’S face it DAP chairman Karpal Singh is never going to agree with PAS on the party’s desire to implement hudud and an Islamic state, come what may.

The reasons for his strenuous objections are simple.

Ours is a secular nation and we have to fight to keep it that way against all attempts by PAS to change the fundamental rules and laws that form the secular basis of this modern and fast-developing nation.

PAS is an Islamic party that cannot and will not give up on hudud or Islamic state and its objection to secular laws, which it calls antiquated and colonial.

The party wants to turn the clock back to an era when crime and punishment were simple severing limbs for stealing, stoning to death for adultery and public whipping or jail terms for consuming alcohol.

But for some reason, presumably religious, PAS wants to implement hudud in a multi-ethnic society.

It is also regretable that Pakatan Rakyat and its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had “arm twisted” PAS into agreeing to give up its cherished Islamic state objective for that of a welfare state as announced by party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang at the PAS muktamar last year.

Karpal’s stand against hudud, which has moved from a constitutional and legal issue to a political argument, is that hudud and Islamic state are not in the Buku Jingga, the document that spells out the compromises thrashed out by the three disparate parties of Pakatan.

“I can assure the people that the Islamic state agenda and hudud will not be included in the Pakatan manifesto,” Karpal said on Saturday, responding to calls by PAS leaders for him to quit calling for an end to hudud.

“DAP will not allow it,” he said, adding that hudud and Islamic state were concepts unsuitable for a multi-religious country like Malaysia.

Increasingly, however, Karpal is alone in DAP for opposing PAS over the hudud issue.

Neither Lim Kit Siang, the all powerful adviser nor his son Lim Guan Eng, the party’s secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister, or other key leaders are opposing PAS on matters that are crucial to voters in the upcoming general election.

The elder Lim had battled with the issues in the past and was punished by the public for going against their wishes in supporting PAS despite the party’s stand on these issues.

But in the 2008 general election, the public lost their fear of hudud and Islamic state and gave their backing, even voting for PAS candidates in mixed seats enabling the party to do well.

Emboldened by this support, DAP has been selling PAS to the Chinese community.

The party actively supports their candidates in by-elections, endorses their position on public matters by keeping silent and cooperates with them in states ruled by the Opposition coalition.

Anwar likewise “agrees to disagree” with PAS over many policies.

The Chinese voters, too, urged by DAP, backed PAS candidates in several by-elections since 2008, notably in the January 2011 Tenang by-election.

During that by-election, DAP went all out supporting PAS candidate Normala Sudirman who had caused a stir among voters by insisting on wearing gloves before shaking hands.

Karpal is alone in a party whose leadership simply wants to cooperate with PAS and turn a blind eye to the dangers of religious politics.

They believe PAS has a “liberal” side and that they can “control” PAS and inhibit its fundamental tendencies.

But the only person standing in their way is Karpal.

Said a DAP source: “Karpal is alone in seeing the dangers to a secular Malaysia that PAS poses and he speaks up. He is not afraid. Everybody else is for working with PAS for political expediency.”

Karpal is unrelenting going head-to-head with PAS Youth wing leaders led by its chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi over the past few weeks on the hudud issue.

PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat backed the youth leaders by explaining that the party’s hudud and Islamic state aspirations were not political but religious obligations.

The marriage of convenience between PAS and DAP is working well but Karpal constantly throws a spanner in the works with his fierce opposition.

Increasingly, he is isolated and alone in the DAP’s top leadership opposing hudud and this isolation encourages PAS to take on the DAP chairman.

Only some DAP grassroots leaders are openly supporting Karpal, whose strength lies in the fact that he is consistent in his opposition, has a wide following in society and is considered “untouchable” in the party.

“Karpal does not toe the party line … everybody else is either agreeing to disagree’ with PAS or has been cowed by the powerful Lim dynasty that rules DAP,” said a DAP source.

The ongoing war between PAS Youth leaders, who are supported by the PAS elders, and Karpal, adds a new and explosive dimension to the opposition to hudud and Islamic state.

It also shows that the DAP leadership is increasingly disconnected with some of their own grassroots who strongly oppose PAS for the continuing dangers it presents to a secular society.

On a personal level, PAS calling Karpal “outdated” and urging him to step aside has enraged the Tiger of Jelutong and his supporters into hitting back.

Can they pretend to be on the same page after this little war?