COMMENT The recent PAS rally in support of the private member’s bill tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 turned out to be a damp squib - or in simple English - a big flop!
It was a flop in several ways. Firstly, although PAS had targeted a crowd of 300,000 to show the country that the Malay electorate was behind the controversial amendment, police and analysts estimated the crowd at only 20,000.
The turnout - so much smaller than even Bersih - or Hindraf-organised past rallies - not only shows that this issue does not resonate with the Malay public. It also shows that the reputed grassroots support for PAS has been overrated.
Although in the past we have seen the organisational ability of PAS in drawing the Malay Muslim crowd to rally alongside non-Muslims in Bersih and Pakatan rallies, this time round the Malay public stayed away.
If the thinking in PAS ulama leaders led by Hadi is that his proposed amendments would serve as its main political strategy in order to attract greater support, it is clear that grassroots supporters do not want to give wider powers to the syariah court and to be made use of by Hadi in his ambition to push for an Islamic state in Malaysia.
Which Malay in his right mind wants to see an increase in maximum punishment for syariah offences to 30 years’ jail, fine of up to RM100,000 and up to 100 strokes of the cane for offences?
Which rational Malaysian wants to see the introduction of a two-tier legal system, in which Muslims will be discriminated against as proposed by Hadi and his men, and which could also result in hudud being a reality in our multi-racial Malaysia?