PAS, still the same old iron mould?

Lim Sue Goan, Sin Chew Daily

The rivalry in Malaysian politics will very often take the extreme course, banking on the sensitive racial and religious issues. The current Umno general assembly is not expected to be any different.

Meanwhile, to appease the emotions of its supporters, PAS is poised to accentuate its religious hues.

Coincidentally, in the PAS general assembly earlier this month, some delegates hit out at the party leadership for its softened and wavering stand on the hudud issue, overlooking the fact hat the hudud law forms the core principle of the party. MPKB enforcers slapped summonses to Chinese hair salon operators in Kota Bharu during the raids carried out last Tuesday and Friday.

As what we understand, Friday is a gazetted holiday in the state of Kelantan. However, on a rare occasion, the MPKB officers went on plainclothes last Friday to raid the NICE and E-Life hair salons inside KB Mall, accusing the hair salons of operating without a valid permit and a female employee serving a male customer in breach of state regulations.

The operation carried out irrespective of race on the eve of the Umno general assembly should help abate the firepower of Umno targeted at PAS.

Although Islamic measures have been in force in Kelantan all these years, the state authorities hardly take on hair salon operators. The latest episode, therefore, appears a little eccentric.

If the above speculations have been inaccurate, it is essential for the Kelantan state government or PAS to clarify..Unfortunately, state exco Takiyuddin Hassan was resolved to defend the action of the enforcers even after DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh had hit out at the incident.

Meanwhile, menteri besar Nik Aziz said the state ulama council would talk about this issue and might bring the matter to the state legislative assembly if warranted. This raises the question whether the ulama council or the state government would have the final say on administrative matters.

Similar to Umno, PAS needs to take care of its fundamental support base. PAS is concerned that Umno’s racist card could possibly erode its support and would therefore resort to flashing its Islamic policies every now and then to consolidate its hold, especially in Kelantan which Umno is pouncing on and which Muhyiddin has anticipated a political tsunami.

Enforcing Islamic decrees on non-Muslims is nevertheless contrary to the party’s pledge not to impose such regulations on non-Muslims in the state while contradicting the party’s direction of diluting its religious hues in a bid to win over non-Malay voters.

Perhaps PAS feels Chinese voters would still lean on the opposition pact with the anti-Lynas, Chinese education, corruption and other issues now diverting their attention, providing an opportune timing for the party to manifest its Islamic laws while not adversely affecting the support of Chinese voters.

The party has obviously overlooked the fact that MCA will never let go of this opportunity to hit out at PAS. If this matter is eventually brought to the court, it will sustain for some time and will very likely develop into a heated electoral issue that will have a negative bearing on the opposition pact.

It cannot be denied that the Kelantan state government has been fair and unbiased in its governance but their thinking is nevertheless out-of-date. Take the movie theatres for example. How do you expect the audience to enjoy the movie if the lights inside the theatre have to be left on? How many would pay to see a movie that conforms completely to the teachings of Islam? Little wonder that no new cinemas have opened for business in the last ten years.

There is an urgent need tor PAS to transform itself, or risk losing the opportunity to grab the helm in Putrajaya.

PAS must make an unequivocal choice between clinging on to its fundamental support base and enlarging its political reach.