Teluk Intan, a gift from PAS

Zaid Ibrahim

Zaid Ibrahim

I have no doubt that DAP’s Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud will win the Teluk Intan by-election, even though she’s another example of Lim Kit Siang using his usual ploy of singing the underdog’s tune. It’s going to be close, however, and the clincher will depend on PAS’s ability to sway the Malay vote.

PAS will do its level best, I am sure. Sallehuddin Ayub and the younger set of PAS leaders need to win Teluk Intan for the DAP after their recent attempt to push their hudud plan. PAS has to reinforce its commitment to the politics of consensus and show that it will not emulate UMNO’s standard of practising the politics of hegemony. PAS needs to come back to the middle ground by formulating policies with the consent of its coalition partners and the larger Malaysian public.

I am opposed to the hudud plan but there are many others like me who want to see a vibrant and progressive Muslim party like PAS, if their leaders are prepared to change. PAS is the perfect antidote to UMNO’s chauvinism and bigotry. PAS can get the support of the ordinary Malays if it focuses more on socioeconomic injustices in the country. PAS can be the champion of the poor and the weak without the hudud plan.

PAS does not need to take the hardest part of the shariah, which is hudud, to show that it’s a party with true Islamic aspirations. Shariah is about justice, the common good, the dignity of human beings and all of God’s creations. PAS can start practising the values of the shariah and earn the confidence and support of Malaysians without having to adopt the most divisive component of hudud.

PAS has the credentials to win back Malay support because I believe the majority of Malays reject the kind of political arrogance that has become the trademark of UMNO politics. The Najib-Muhiyuddin combination will not make UMNO more attractive to Malays in the long term. They both pander to racial and religious superiority and they teach Malays to practice false values. According to them, if Malaysia becomes a developed country, then ipso facto Malays and Muslims will be a developed community too. They totally miss the point: the cultural, educational and economic empowerment of the Malay/ Muslim community depends not on how many enemies UMNO created for them, but on what Malays can do for themselves. PAS can take this lead if it really wants political power.