Blame Umno for hudud – not Hadi

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Pas' bill: A step towards hudud? - Graphic: freemalaysia.com

Those vilifying Hadi for introducing a private member’s bill on hudud are barking up the wrong tree.

In normal circumstances, a private member’s bill coming from the Opposition will not see the light of day. The government would deliberately drag on government bills so that by the end of the parliamentary session there would be no time to consider the private member’s bill. That is how it is killed.

But why Umno did not play this typical political game to ‘kill’ Hadi’s bill is intriguing. There must have been some form of collusion between Umno and Pas to fast-track Hadi’s bill. Has Umno abandoned its Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition partners and decided to form a new alliance with Pas?

The bill was at the bottom of the order paper. For it to take precedence over 14 other government bills – only Umno could make this happen. And it did that through an Umno minister in the prime minister’s department, who moved the motion to bring forward the private member’s bill. And this could only have been done with the connivance of the prime minister.

The question arises, who wants the hudud law to be implemented in our plural society? Is it only Hadi? If so, the bill would not have got where it did without Umno’s support.

But what was unexpected was Umno’s treachery to its coalition partners. Though Umno had never opposed hudud publicly, there was never any inkling that it would facilitate Pas’ attempt to successfully table a private member’s bill in Parliament.

Those who believed in Umno and its previous assurances on hudud were totally devastated by Umno’s conduct – or is it misconduct? They justifiably felt betrayed.

If Tok Guru Nik Aziz had been alive, Pas would not have strayed from the ethical path of righteousness. Tok Guru Nik Aziz was vehemently opposed to working with Umno. With him gone, there was no restraining factor to ensure that Pas would keep away from Umno and stick to its true path of justice.

The question then arises, who wants the hudud law to be implemented in our plural society?
Who is pushing for it to be debated earlier than intended?

Why did Umno play the heinous villain’s role, completely discrediting itself?

Umno shamelessly betrayed the component BN parties that have stuck with it through thick and thin; it did not bother to take them into its confidence and inform them of Umno’s decision to allow for the private member’s bill to leapfrog from No 15 to No 1, taking precedence over other government matters.

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It did not even call for the BN Supreme Council to discuss this matter. Najib did not disclose his plan to the cabinet either.

All the BN coalition partners have been deliberately and wantonly sidelined, marginalised and totally ignored. Najib did not bother about the sensitivities of all these people who had stood by him. They did not seem to matter to him. Apparently, their opinions and views meant very little to Najib.

Ordinarily, the speaker of the House has to be satisfied when a priwate member moves his bill. He normally applies three criteria for accepting the motion: is the bill (a) urgent, (b) specific in nature, and (c) in the public interest? Based on this test and judging from past instances, Hadi’s bill would not have qualified by any means.

Was that the reason why the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of parliamentary affairs, Azalina Othman Said, brought it forward and moved it as if it was the government’s bill. By doing so, no questions were asked and the bill was not put to the test to qualify for acceptance.

The MCA and Gerakan should stop acting in a silly manner. Both the parties blame the DAP for the current situation. They claim that the DAP hoodwinked voters by asking them to vote for Pas. This is sheer nonsense.

Pas on its own volition reached out to the non-Muslims. Party president Abdul Hadi Awang made the “welfare state” announcement at the end of the 57th muktamar in June 2011, effectively dropping its long-standing quest for an Islamic state and adopting the welfare state concept of the benevolent society.

This articulation of the “welfare state” and “Pas for all” found resonance in the hearts of the have-nots and non-Muslim Malaysians and was accepted by voters as a principled stand that won them over and earned their support. If not for this open declaration by Pas, no amount of DAP rhetoric would have coaxed the Chinese to vote for Pas without Pas itself coming out openly and embracing all Malaysians.

The voters were taken in because they believed that Pas being a religious party would honour its word. They were happy that Pas had pushed the Islamic state agenda into the background; thus it did not threaten their way of life.

Why did the DAP and the PKR urge voters to support Pas? It was clearly a time for change. Pas had now made it easier for them because it had abandoned its rigid stand on hudud and opted for a “welfare state”, presenting the Islamic party as “Pas for all.” If not for this, the DAP and the PKR would not have campaigned for Pas. It was as simple as that.

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The Chinese are practical people. They can decide for themselves. The DAP could not have succeeded in convincing Chinese voters to cast their vote for Pas candidates if Pas had not opted for the benevolent state agenda, which did not discriminate against the Chinese. That was the only reason; it had nothing to do with the DAP’s eloquence!

After Pas had gone back on its word, the DAP severed all ties with Pas. The DAP had all along been against hudud. They were not wishy-washy about it. The whole world knew of the DAP’s position on hudud. It is strange that the MCA was not aware of this! Who can forget the late Karpal Singh’s roar, “Over my dead body!”

If the MCA was making a point that the DAP had indeed successfully persuaded the Chinese to vote for Pas candidates, conversely it can also be argued that the MCA and Gerakan had failed miserably to convince the Chinese not to vote for Pas. Why were they unable to persuade the Chinese voters not to cast their votes for Pas?

Is it their failure in persuading the Chinese not to vote for Pas that hascreated and contributed to the present day crisis? As the party claiming to represent the Chinese, how is it that the MCA could not discourage and dissuade Chinese voters from supporting Pas? Was it because the MCA had at that time lost all its credibility among the Chinese, who were not willing to be taken for a ride by a party that had forfeited their trust?

The former president of MCA, Dr Chua Soi Lek, seems to have had a better grasp of things. He was quoted (in the Malay Mail Online) as having said: “Soi Lek: MCA must stop hudud, can’t keep blaming DAP.

He was also quoted (in Malaysiakini on 6 May 2014) as saying: “Soi Lek: Unfortunately, DAP is right”:

Housing the largest number of Muslim MPs, Umno wields the power to derail its arch rival’s attempt to implement hudud law in Kelantan.

And this is one of those rare occasions where former MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek agreed with the argument coming from the DAP corner.

“Umno has 88 MPs and if the party chooses not to back PAS, the latter would not even dare table a private member’s bill on hudud,” he told Malaysiakini.

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“Unfortunately, I agree with DAP leaders who call on MCA to convince Umno … It is logical,” he added.

“Don’t just ask DAP to prevent Pas from tabling the Bill. That is outside of BN, something must be done within BN,” he said.

But who paved the way for the present mess? It was the MCA, Gerakan, the MIC and all the other coalition partners of the Barisan Nasional who supported and voted for this dual system to come into being.

If these parties had taken an uncompromising stand and threatened to resign their posts and leave the BN, we woud not be confronted by this very disturbing and troubling situation today.

When the federal constitution was amended in 1988 to pave the way for the Syariah court, what was the stand of all the coalition partners in the BN? They all colluded with the Umno move and helped to create this dual system that is seen as unhealthy in a plural society.

The declaration by MCA, MIC, Gerakan and SUPP leaders that they are ready to resign their cabinet posts if the private member’s bill is passed by Parliament amounts to nothing. After it is passed, who cares if you are in the cabinet or not?

Didn’t the MCA refuse to be included in the cabinet because of its poor showing in GE13? Did it prevent the BN cabinet from functioning? It was business as usual. Finally, the MCA adopted a motion to accept positions in government even though nothing had changed during their absence.

If these leaders are now ready to make a stand, they should follow the unambiguous position reportedly taken by Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS):

“(PRS) will break ranks with BN should the coalition support the hudud bill which Pas intends to table in Parliament,” said PRS President James Masing when asked to comment on a statement made by Pas president Abdul Hadi Awang that he would personally table its hudud bill in the current sitting in Parliament.

“Our party’s stand is that we will oppose it,” Mr Masing said.

Kelantan’s state assembly unanimously passed the Shariah Criminal Code 11 1993 (Amendment 2015) or hudud bill last week.

“Our six members of Parliament will not support the bill,” said Masing, a senior minister in the state cabinet.

Are these leaders prepared to declare that they will not support the bill in Parliament? Are they courageous enough to announce that they will leave the BN if the bill is passed?

Malaysians await a positive response from these political leaders.

P Ramakrishnan
Aliran executive committee member
3 June 2016

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