Will PAS’ hudud create rift in BN?


Umno can choose to work with PAS on hudud as the Islamic party delivers them more seats than many BN component parties combined

Levan Woon, Free Malaysia Today

PAS has until June to table its private member’s bills in parliament to permit the Kelantan state government to implement hudud, but political parties from both divides are already agitated.

Pakatan Rakyat for one is definitely worried that the Barisan Alternatif episode in 2001 would recur.

Back then, DAP had to break ties with PAS due to the Islamic party’s insistence to push its Islamic agenda.

The ups and downs in politics saw DAP and PAS reeling back to the same table only after the opposition scored a breakthrough to deny BN its two-third majority in the 2008 general election.

Since then, with the growing number of progressive leaders in PAS and political pragmatism, PAS has toned down its Islamic appeal. But hudud remains a thorn in Pakatan’s flesh.

But the decisive moment will arrive in the coming months. Should PAS be able to table its bill and get it passed in parliament, DAP would have no choice but turn its back on PAS.

The fallout between the two will spell an end of Pakatan Rakyat coalition if the bill is passed. Nevertheless till then it is still safe.

Umno holds the trump card

This issue could bring a similar disaster to BN too.

Of late, Umno ministers like Jamil Khir Baharom and Razali Ibrahim have indicated that they are willing to work with PAS to allow Kelantan to impose hudud.

Going by the words of Razali, the deputy minister in Prime Minister Department, PAS can even count on all Umno lawmakers “to vote for the bill”.

Even progressive Umno leaders such as Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Shahrir Samad said they are open to PAS tabling the bill.

Umno’s statement revealed a stark reality in today’s politics. First, Muslim lawmakers are duty bound by religion to support hudud, regardless which divide they are in.

More importantly, Umno can forsake most of its BN colleagues in place for PAS and still retain federal power.

Umno controls 88 seats in Parliament, whereas PAS has 21. With the help of Sarawak-based Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), which holds 14 seats, Umno can still form the federal government and have representatives all over the country.

On the contrary, other BN component parties are pretty much dependent on Umno to cling on to power.

MCA, MIC, Gerakan, Parti Bersatu Sabah and the other East Malaysia parties combined command only 31 seats. Even if they were to join forces with DAP and PKR they will still fall short of coming into power (99 seats).

As such Umno holds the superior bargaining power. It can create a major paradigm shift in politics in Malaysia if it decides so.