The Malay dilemma – Harapan, BN or PAS

Opinion  |  P Gunasegaram
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | For PAS under Abdul Hadi Awang, the Islamic agenda is above all. When PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat died in February 2015, the era of cooperation with other opposition parties effectively ended.

In fact, Hadi pushed the envelope far forward to effectively get into a working relationship with Umno, something that was anathema to Nik Aziz who swore that he would never work with Umno.

PAS cooperated with Umno in a number of things, with perhaps one of the major areas of cooperation in recent times the amendment to Act 355 which would have given syariah courts substantially increased powers of punishment.

Hadi’s proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) will raise the punishment ceiling to 30 years' jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 times of whipping instead of completely doing away with the punishment cap. This act was however deferred, mainly due to objections from Sabah and Sarawak.

More recently, PAS MPs supported the passage of the Anti-Fake News Bill which provides for hefty punishment and fines for those who report or transmit fake news, the definition of which is not at all clear. And PAS has been back-pedalling on its criticisms of 1MDB.

That PAS under Hadi is willing to work with Umno is very clear but why not form an alliance with Umno instead? That way PAS is assured there won’t be three-cornered fights which are, according to most analyses and which I agree with as well, most detrimental to PAS. It has the potential of virtually wiping out PAS’ seats or whittling down substantially the number of seats it has now.

Surely Hadi and PAS top brass must realise that this a suicide mission that PAS is undertaking for Umno, but why? If it had stayed in the opposition coalition it certainly would have gained by the shift in Malay voters away from BN which will almost certainly happen. And PAS would have most certainly benefited.

A clue comes from Hadi’s own statements on PAS. Hadi said that PAS did not fear losing elections because its cause is Islam. That means that PAS is prepared to sacrifice all so long as Islam is furthered. That would naturally mean Islamic laws as well.

The frightening and surprising implication from this is that PAS is prepared to lose to support a government which will further the Islamic cause - probably the assurance that Islamic laws will be given more prominence in the legal system.

In other words, PAS is deliberately playing a spoiler role in these elections, sacrificing seats for the furtherance of Islam. Hadi has openly said they would cooperate with Umno/BN on PAS’ own terms which he refused to disclose...

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