Will PAS betray its voters’ trust?

Chinese voters taking a cue from DAP have been urged to vote for PAS. But will PAS ‘betray’ its voters and impose its brand of hudud, effectively shackling the non-Muslims, if the Islamist party comes to power together with its allies?

Baradan Kuppusamy, The Star

A GROWING number of DAP leaders are speaking up, questioning the party’s staunch support for PAS, a religious party that wants to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state.

PAS also wants to implement its brand of hudud, the ancient Islamic criminal code that stones one to death for adultery and have limbs chopped off for stealing, among other punishments.

These leaders are worried that their party’s alliance with PAS is helping PAS to grow, win over non-Muslim support and become powerful enough to impose the PAS-style of intolerant Islam on the people.

These policies include no alco­hol, Friday as the day off instead of the universal Sunday, a ban on entertainment and singing, moral policing, a ban on cinemas and numerous other instances of how non-Malays have been made to live through when PAS is in power.

These leaders are understandably worried that DAP, of which they have been an integral part for decades, is helping PAS win big in this most crucial of all elections.

They are worried that after winning, an emboldened PAS will start imposing its creed on society as it has already done in Kedah, where a pig abattoir was demolished in 2008, and in Selangor, where PAS shared power with DAP and PKR, and banned the sale of alcohol.

All this while DAP chairman Karpal Singh was alone in opposing PAS’ plans for hudud and for an Islamic state.

But he stops short of telling voters not to vote for PAS and thereby advances PAS’ dream of turning the country into an Islamic theocracy.

That’s exactly what another DAP leader has bravely said, enraging PAS leaders, by urging voters not to vote for PAS.

Johor DAP deputy chairman Norman Fernandez, an outspoken lawyer, said voters “cannot gamble and risk their future with PAS”.

He warned voters of the grave danger and risk in voting for PAS because PAS has sought to change its true colours.

PAS has always been consistent as a religious party, he said, adding that it was always propelled by Islamic concerns.

They appear moderate and progressive but their core is always intolerant fundamentalism.

In his article last week, Fernan­dez said: “I, for one, have finally made up my mind and am convinced that PAS does not deserve my vote” and he urged voters everywhere not to vote PAS and advance their cause.

He was prompted to speak up and risk censure from his own colleagues because PAS leaders, in recent weeks, started to speak up for hudud implementation and Islamic state.

They were speaking up in order to shore up support for their party but their speaking up had angered DAP leaders.

Norman was supported by his colleagues and one of them – Kedah DAP committee member S. Neelamekan – also spoke up, saying the Federal Constitution was clear in that Malaysia was a secular state and not an Islamic theocracy.

He said PAS’ incessant calls to implement hudud law was “disturbing” and that such open calls were indeed “dangerous” for Malaysia.

“The only way we can stop this is to stop PAS,” Neelamekan said.

“I will certainly not vote for PAS and I urge DAP members and Malaysians to do the same.”

In Kelantan where they rule, it is common to see separate lines for men and women, women hairdressers are barred from cutting men’s hair and having Friday as a day off.

In Selangor, PAS tried to ban cinemas, police places of entertainment and stop 7-Eleven from selling alcohol, among other things.

These are small missteps but indicate the larger things to come if PAS ever captures Federal power, in alliances with DAP and PKR.

Chinese voters are eager to vote PAS, taking their cue from DAP. It has been urging them to vote PAS as part of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition and change the government. DAP has even come up with the ubah (change) slogan.

But will PAS eventually betray the Chinese voters by resorting to intolerant policies on grounds that Chinese voters support it and therefore support its policies?

The Chinese voters, who make up about 25% of the 13.3 million voters, are keen to throw their votes for PAS as well, besides voting for DAP.

But Chinese voters form the majority in about 40 parliamentary seats and winning these at best they can be an effective opposition.

Will they be sending a wrong message to PAS that Chinese, too, welcome hudud law and also all the intolerance that goes with it?

PAS is already saying that DAP was willing to use its moon symbol when the DAP’s rocket ran into problems with the Registrar of Societies.

They are saying that DAP was accepting hudud and the Islamic state when it agreed to use the moon symbol.

DAP leaders like Norman had to make a clear stand between cooperating with PAS and supporting PAS’ many policies.

They just can’t stomach the idea of their party working hand in hand with PAS, which has resolved to imposing its intolerant values on others.