Appeal for cool heads over hudud

The recent recriminations between those who support hudud and those who are against have raised the temperature of social climate among the various peoples in the country. Debate should be rational and not lead to ridicule and insults.

Jun 13, 2014

Dear Editor,

The recent recriminations between those who support hudud and those who are against have raised the temperature of social climate among the various peoples in the country. Debate should be rational and not lead to ridicule and insults.

PAS has been consistent in their aim for implementation of religious laws though they had suspended their plans during the partnership within Pakatan in the last two elections. There are many new PAS leaders who are more concerned with more important issues facing the country. However, they feel that they are losing the support of the Muslims, especially with taunting by UMNO over their alleged “subservience” to DAP.

DAP has also been consistent in their opposition to the hudud laws and has worked with PAS within Pakatan which did not espouse such laws in their manifesto. DAP has declared that it would never agree to such issue being part of Pakatan’s agenda.

On the other hand, UMNO leaders have been hypocritical over the issue and are vacillating between whether they would support the introduction of hudud or not. Several ministers have openly declared that they would support the bill. MCA, which had acquiesced to UMNO all these years on various Islamisation issues, suddenly decides to be vocal, to the point of being belligerent. Threats to form human barriers are not only undemocratic but even foolhardy as they may provoke more violent protests from the Islamists. However, MCA and Gerakan evade the question of whether they would leave Barisan if UMNO endorses hudud.

Although I do not agree, I can understand why PAS has to continue their campaign through a private member’s bill. Note it is not the party’s official bill. After all, the states of Kelantan and Trengganu have already passed the hudud legislation. They have already said that they would abide by the votes in the Parliament.

The ball is now in UMNO’s court. For various reasons, UMNO leaders would be in a dilemma, whether to vote for or against. Even if all the Muslim politicians vote for it, there would not be a two thirds majority necessary to amend the constitution. Many Barisan Bumiputra MPs from Sarawak and Sabah are not Muslims. Being a private member’s bill, some Muslims may even abstain.

If the bill does not get the two thirds majority, PAS would feel itself vindicated as it would show that it tried. Hopefully then, the party would drop this agenda in their partnership with Pakatan. On the other hand, UMNO would be put in bad light. If they are against hudud, they would be blamed and if they had voted for it, they would be accused of hesitating all these years. MCA would also realise that they are barking up the wrong tree, when all this while they had been subservient to UMNO.

PAS should, however, realise that the possible gains in political support from conservative Muslims would be negated by the definite loss in support from all non-Muslims and even from some moderate Muslims. Even now, PAS struggles against UMNO in rural Malay areas even though it is more vocal than UMNO on the hudud issue. It lost Trengganu even after passing the bill in the state. It will definitely lose many seats in the urban western states including Selangor. PAS has to consider whether it is worth all the tension and damaged relations it has brought about.

Dr S K
Teoh Ipoh

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