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How secular parties fell into PAS’ trap

January 12, 2017

Smart individual decisions of Umno, the DAP and PKR have given rise to utterly deplorable overall consequences.

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By Sin Chew Daily

PAS has announced that it will organise a rally of 300,000 participants in support of the amendment to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, also known as Act 355. The move has since reawakened the controversies surrounding the hudud law issue.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) held the dominant position when PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang tabled the private member’s bill in parliament last year. Whether the PAS bill should be allowed to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat and whether the issue should extend from there was completely in the hands of BN/Umno.

Umno could easily have decided whether it wanted the bill to proceed; it could have rejected Hadi’s motion or kept it suppressed on technical excuses.

But today, it appears that PAS is regaining the reins in a bid to curtail BN/Umno’s advances.

If the proposed rally gets overwhelming support from the Malay Muslims, powerful pressure will be formed, and this will serve to further restrict the subsequent moves of BN/Umno. In the end, this whole thing will have to go as PAS had wished.

It appears that the chances of PAS’ private member’s bill being adopted in the Dewan Rakyat are increasingly getting better, and the country is set to inch closer towards Islamisation.

Umno, and most other political parties, basically operate along secular lines, and theocracy and hudud law are not really their primary objectives.

However, throughout years of political struggle in the country, at a particular point in time, they had somehow made irrational decisions that have pushed the country gradually towards religionisation, giving the Islamist party added firepower.

On Sept 29, 2001, then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that Malaysia was an Islamic state, sparking widespread controversy. Mahathir’s move was purely political in nature aimed at diffusing PAS’ Islamic policies and preventing it from making further advances in Islamisation.

But since the Islamic state discourse began to gain acceptance among the authorities and the country’s Muslim community, a process of rationalisation has taken place to move the country down the road of Islamisation.

In the meantime, even though the DAP and PKR did not seem to agree with PAS’ theocratic advocacy, they opted to team up with the party for strategic considerations, allowing the party to win the rare opportunity to step out of its safe haven in the east coast and rural Malay hinterland to gain a foothold in new realms. Where political interests are concerned, working with PAS was the best option for the DAP and PKR back then, and this was proven by the outcome of the last two general elections.

When Umno decided to hold out the olive branch and give Hadi Awang’s private member‘s bill the go-ahead last year, it was also an outcome of Umno’s political calculations to further the party’s interests.

From Mahathir’s Islamic state declaration to the DAP-PKR-PAS alliance and the Umno-PAS collaboration, at different points in time, the decision makers made logical analyses and came out with decisions that best fitted their aspirations.

Unfortunately, such decisions have subsequently created complications beyond their control, and have indirectly provided expanded space for the Islamisation quest, allowing PAS to goad the country down the path of Islamisation.

Smart individual decisions have given rise to utterly deplorable overall consequences. As secular parties go after their own interests, they have allowed themselves to fall into the trap of PAS without them realising it.

Sin Chew Daily is a local vernacular publication.

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