The PAS factor in DAP polls

With the party’s national election looming, DAP leaders are increasingly under pressure to stop being in denial mode over PAS’ policies and start speaking out against their Pakatan coalition partner’s Islamist agenda.

“One thing is for sure. Whoever has been consistently against speaking up against Islamisation is going to get the our vote and whoever has been a consistently an apologist for PAS is going to get the door,” said a veteran DAP delegate.

Baradan Kuppusamy, The Star

INCREASINGLY, PAS’ excesses are having a harmful effect on the DAP whose leaders find themselves under heavy pressure to account for them.

PAS’ recent actions against non-Muslim couples for sitting in cars, walking in the park or having their hair cut by the opposite sex are some of the excesses that call the lie on DAP claims that PAS is moderate and liberal.

DAP leaders have moved from an outright denial of PAS’ excesses to lately claiming that overzealous officials in Kelantan are “sabotaging” Pakatan Rakyat with their summons’ action and gender segregation.

By extension they are saying that PAS itself is alright, but it is the officials who are spoiling the party’s chances and hampering the coalition’s march to Putrajaya.

This comes at a bad time for the DAP, which finished elections for its Wanita section and Youth wing with focus shifting to the national election for 20 seats in the central executive council (CEC) next week.

As the enlarged party hits the home run for the national election, chairman Karpal Singh, who is contesting, is figuring large for his strong opposition to PAS’ policies.

His opposition to hudud laws, criticism to gender segregation and summonses issue to non-Muslim couples have made Karpal a popular figure in the elections although state warlords are opposed to his “one-man one-seat” rule.

Other DAP leaders have started to speak up against PAS, warning that these matters are better resolved quickly or the party risks jeopardising its ties with Pakatan.

Some DAP leaders might be engaged in “electioneering” by voicing opposition to PAS’ policies and at the same time upholding the rights of mainly Chinese delegates.

Many contesting veteran leaders are unsure of how the votes will go in the party that has nearly trebled its base since 2008.

But there are larger issues at stake in the sudden spate of DAP leaders speaking up against PAS’ policies besides elections.

They are genuinely exasperated with PAS for its sudden turnaround from advocating liberal policies to a return to harsh hudud laws at its recent Muktamar.

PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat also dropped a bombshell by coming out strongly for hudud.

That statement threw water over many DAP leaders, who secretly hoped for PAS to at least keep its liberal stand until the general election.

With pressure mounting from non-Muslims, who are genuinely concerned over various PAS’ policies, DAP leaders are under severe pressure.

Party elections have made matters worse with delegates watching which leader would be for political expediency and who would be defending non-Muslim rights.

DAP leaders are also opposed to the Nov 30 destruction of a Hindu shrine in Sungei Pelek where all of DAP’s town councillors in the municipality have absolved themselves of any involvement, privately putting the blame on a PAS person for ordering the destruction.

The shrine issue is deeply felt among DAP Indian members, who form about 20% of the delegates, and they are beginning to speak out against PAS for endorsing it, especially after MIC took up the issue.

“One thing is for sure. Whoever has been consistently against speaking up against Islamisation is going to get the our vote and whoever has been a consistently an apologist for PAS is going to get the door,” said a veteran DAP delegate.

Gone are the days when the DAP leaders went around mouthing Islamic verses and the DAP rank and file applaud it, he added.

“Today, delegates are all for cooperation with PAS but they want DAP leaders to speak out against its Islamist policies.

“They want our leaders to tame PAS and keep non-Muslim rights intact,” said the Perak delegate.

In this respect Karpal’s consistent opposition to PAS’ policies has the DAP delegates’ respect and admiration.

“We are all for cooperation with PAS but PAS must know its limits in a multi-racial society,” said a Negri Sembilan delegate.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng broke his long silence and urged PAS to immediately resolve the summons issue to “avoid jeopardising ties with Pakatan Rakyat”.

Another longtime PAS apologist – Rasah MP Anthony Loke – has also caught on, urging PAS not to damage its “moderate” reputation.

These DAP leaders fail to realise that a religious party like PAS has no concept of moderation or liberalism.

PAS takes its rules from established religious edicts and if there is dispute, and there are many, they have a Ulama Council to rule.

DAP leaders are finally learning that sleeping with a religious party for political expediency comes with a heavy price – you cannot control what PAS is going to say or do next and there comes a time when you cannot keep on apologising any longer.

In this respect Karpal, who is alone among DAP leaders for his principled stand and consistent opposition to hudud and PAS’ religious edicts, is rightly admired by the party delegates.