A party that is the prime mover of hudud law should exhibit zero tolerance for any attempt to link it to any form of black money, writes Mustafa K Anuar.
It looks like Pas, the self-styled Islamist party, was caught with its pants down – metaphorically speaking, of course – when Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown dropped a bombshell recently about party president Hadi Awang allegedly having paid RM1.4m to her as part of an out-of-court settlement.
The payment pertains to Hadi’s legal suit against Rewcastle Brown’s allegation that his party received RM90m from newly courted ally Umno. The humongous donation was allegedly Umno’s bid to secure Pas’ support ahead of the last general election.
Incidentally, the Sarawak Report editor maintained that she felt compelled to reveal this out-of-court settlement after Pas’ leadership was said to have breached its mutual agreement to keep it confidential.
Almost on cue, the out-of-court payment was immediately denied by Pas – before anyone could scream “pants on fire!” – as this, obviously, has repercussions on the party. For one thing, this begs the question as to where the RM1.4m came from.
While a segment of its diehard membership may not be unduly concerned or worried about this matter, the Malay-based party, nonetheless, needs to do more than just express a plain denial to prove its purported innocence to the larger community of Malaysians. This is because in recent times, the party has been mired in what appears to be a litany of lies, to the extent that its integrity deficit has spiked.
This episode came on the heels of Pas leader Nik Abduh Nik Aziz’s admission that he lied to the public last April when he denied that a voice in a controversial recording was his – all for the supposed purpose of protecting his party’s reputation.
And, as if this hadn’t stretched the public’s imagination enough, Abduh later said that the lie he concocted was “blessed” by Hadi, thus making it “Sharia compliant”.
And, recently, conflicting statements surfaced from both Pas and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad arising from Hadi’s visit to Putrajaya. Mahathir had said that Pas was willing to support him, while Pas’ leadership subsequently denied that.
As implied above, a party such as Pas that suffers from a trust deficit, especially among concerned Malaysians, would need to sufficiently show that its denial is worth the breath that accompanies such refutation. It obviously requires sufficient evidence to disprove the Sarawak Report claim.
Here, the party may want to mull over the need to mount another legal suit against Rewcastle Brown for having said that Hadi did pay the settlement fees, which Pas denied in various ways.
After all, if it is true that the editor did lie about the payment, it certainly cannot be merely dismissed as being “Sharia compliant” – especially coming from an unbeliever. Besides, that notion of “halal-ness” is not acceptable in a court of law, especially in the West.
In this regard, the party must fight the claim tooth and nail to salvage whatever integrity it has, as far as the perception of the wider public is concerned.
Moreover, a party that is generally perceived by its faithful as one that is divinely inspired should show the world what it is made of. Why, even the electorate who voted for the party was assured of a path to heaven.
Additionally, a party that is the prime mover of hudud law should exhibit zero tolerance for any attempt to link it to any form of black money. For it knows full well that under the hudud regime, such serious dishonesty could cost one an arm and a leg, literally.
It is not so much for the pecuniary reward that the party could obtain in the event that it wins the legal suit; it is the principle that matters.
After all, Pas is said to be spiritually driven, and all things material, including mundane things such as Porsches or Range Rovers, are virtually secondary in the eyes of its top leadership, as well as ordinary members.
And as a party whose leaders have expressed the willingness to even die for Islam, it is expected to take the moral high ground when it comes to confronting falsehood in this world.
Why, shouldn’t the line between right and wrong be clear enough to be ascertained by men in robes who are supposedly destined to gain heavenly rewards?