Hudud testing PAS, Umno’s allegiance to Islam, ex-NST boss says

i967.photobucket.com_albums_ae159_Malaysia-Today_Mug shots_kadirjasin_zpsbec9c678

(Malay Mail Online) – The ongoing hudud issue is an acid test for both PAS and Umno in their willingness to cast aside political differences for the sake of racial and religious obligations, veteran journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said.

The former group editor-in-chief of the New Straits Times daily said Malaysians are now waiting to see if Umno will stand by PAS in its bid to enforce the Islamic penal code in Kelantan, although this would mean a bipartisan vote in Parliament.

“Finally, this issue will test whether Umno and PAS are able to think and act beyond the confines of partisan politics, to prioritise the religion and race that they represent,” he said in a blog posting.

The journalist said the hudud debate was revived because of Election 2013 in which PAS saw a decline in its Malay support and Barisan Nasional (BN) suffered a major setback among the non-Malay voters.

He said a shocked Umno seethed when the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, voted against BN, despite being promised allocations and other election sweeteners.

It was the support of the rural Malays that helped save Umno and BN from this “Chinese tsunami”, Kadir said, borrowing a term coined by Umno president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to describe the polls last year.

“If not for the Malays in the villagers and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, BN would have lost,” he observed.

For PAS, Kadir said, its reduced performance at the polls led the Islamist party to realise that its cooperation with DAP and PKR under Pakatan Rakyat (PR) had caused it to bleed Malay support.

He said the party was forced to shelve its Islamic state agenda in order to work with DAP and PKR under the PR umbrella, but despite this, PAS emerged the weakest of the three parties during the polls.

Of the 73 seats it contested last year, PAS only won 21 — two fewer than it won in Election 2008. DAP took the lion’s share of the PR seats, winning 38 spots in Parliament, or 10 more than the 28 it won in the previous polls. PKR came in second place with 30 seats.

“So PAS had to rethink its position on hudud,” Kadir said.

Kadir said although Umno had opposed hudud before, the results of Election 2013 had forced the ruling party to soften its stand.

He said the demands of “Christian activists” on the Allah controversy had also contributed to this.

“Both Umno and PAS have had to face up to Malay/Muslim NGOs who questioned their commitment to Malay and Muslim issues.

“These NGOs can possibly influence the support of the Malays towards PAS and Umno,” Kadir pointed out.

PAS is currently looking for parliamentary approval to implement hudud. It plans to put forward two private members’ bills in parliament. One seeks approval for punishments including whipping, stoning and amputation while the other seeks to empower Shariah courts to mete out the sentences.

In all previous attempts, PAS had been frustrated by BN tactics to prevent any vote by employing a “talking out” tactic where BN MPs have been allowed to speak for an extended period of time to prevent such private members’ bills from even being debated.

However, Umno leaders have now said they have no objections to the implementation of hudud and have constantly challenged PAS to try to introduce the law.

Yesterday, PAS announced that it will delay tabling the two bills.

Party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said the Islamist party was agreeable to Putrajaya’s proposal for a technical committee involving both the federal and state governments to examine and provide suggestions on how best to enforce hudud in Kelantan.