Kelantan’s hudud rush exposing truth behind PAS power struggle, DAP MP says


(Malay Mail Online) – The Kelantan government’s plan to amend its hudud enactment tomorrow without thoroughly consulting the PAS national leadership or its Pakatan allies is an attempt by Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Amar Nik Abdullah to vie for deputy presidency in the Islamist party, a DAP leader alleged today.

DAP political education director Liew Chin Tong, a former academic who says he devoted four years to understanding PAS’ internal dynamics, claimed that the Islamic penal code was never widely talked about, even among top PAS leaders, in the 1950s.

“Phrases such as ‘Negara Islam’ and ‘hudud’ only became popular from the 1980s onward,” Liew said in an article titled “Driving the hudud wedge: The real story behind the Kelantan hudud move”.

“Perhaps the enthusiastic rush for the Kelantan hudud enactment is not really about expanding justice.

“If it is, why the rush? Why can’t more deliberations and consultations be held? It is all about political positioning,” added the former executive director of public policy think tank Penang Institute.

Liew also said he did not believe PAS leaders and members agree with the way the hudud issue is being handled, though they may support the Islamic penal code in principle.

“I believe Nik Amar has his own motives,” he said.

Liew said Nik Amar is preparing to take on PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, a party progressive, for the party’s number two position in the coming PAS election this June, which Nik Amar lost to Mohamad two years ago.

The former academic also said Nik Amar was positioning himself opposite PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa, another progressive, in Kelantan.

“Second, from the impression I got from his briefings at Pakatan meetings, he believes that the hudud enactment would save PAS Kelantan from electoral defeat; this means he has no confidence that PAS could win the next general election,” said Liew, referring to Nik Amar.

“Fourth, he is of the view that hudud could improve PAS’ vote share nationally, despite the fact that many PAS’s seats outside of the Malay heartlands were won with non-Muslim votes,” he added.

Liew said the debate on hudud and whether Malaysia is an Islamic or secular country only became popular after the 1980s when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim joined Umno before the 1982 general election, and during the young clerics’ revolt against Datuk Asri Muda’s leadership of PAS, which he said was seen more as a Malay nationalist party then.

“That era of Islamisation – the battle between PAS and Umno to out-Islam each other – has more or less ended with the jailing of Anwar in September 1998 when the grounds for competition between the ruling Umno and the opposition shifted to more painfully realistic issues such as economic downturn, justice, good governance, and wellbeing of the people,” said Liew.

“Globally, even Islamists discuss real problems of every life in a holistic manner rather than putting the focus on specific legal agenda. Most mainstream Islamists, from Maududi to al-Qaradawi and many others, stress on maqasid – the overriding objectives of shariah (Islamic jurisprudence) – rather than just hudud as a form,” he added.

Liew accused Kelantan PAS of pushing for hudud through deception, pointing out that the two junior Kelantan state executive councillors who were sent to attend the PR leadership council meeting on March 12 had said they had “no mandate” to change anything, and they were allegedly “too late” to do anything.

“The purpose was clear. It was meant to present a fait accompli by deception. It is sad that some people would do such a thing despite the Quranic warning that one should never resort to unfair and dishonest means,” he said.

Liew said this would only serve Umno’s interest, claiming that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) party was on the verge of losing power in the next general election amid scandals and crises.

“Sadly, it’s the people of Malaysia, including Muslims, who will suffer yet again if or when Pakatan Rakyat breaks up over this badly-managed issue. And Umno will return with a vengeance,” said Liew.