Falling support for the Islamist party and the fact that hudud is unneeded will bite BN and Umno in the back, former minister warns.
PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional’s (BN) friendship with PAS could see the end of the ruling coalition, says Zaid Ibrahim.
The former defacto law minister said just as the Islamist party had nearly destroyed Pakatan Rakyat, it would also be the nail in the coffin for BN in the next general election (GE14).
“The general idea is that by working closely with PAS, BN will be saved. This will not happen. In fact, PAS will now destroy BN, after it almost succeeded in destroying Pakatan Rakyat.
“Although Umno under Najib’s leadership might think that cooperation with PAS over issues such as hudud would win the hearts of Malay Muslims, support for the Islamist party was actually on the decline,” Zaid said in the latest post on his blog today.
Zaid, who recently joined DAP, pointed to the falling attendance at recent ceramahs held in the PAS stronghold of Kelantan as proof that the party was losing ground in grassroots support.
“In the days of Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, PAS would gather 10,000 or so supporters at their political ceramah without difficulty.
“Today, PAS under Hadi can hardly organise a ceramah at all for fear that they will have no crowd,” he said, making the distinct comparison between the popularity of PAS’ former spiritual adviser Nik Aziz and current PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.
In contrast, Zaid said, leaders from other political parties, such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad who helms Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), were able to gather much larger crowds when they spoke.
Zaid also criticised Umno’s apparent willingness to cooperate with PAS over proposed amendments to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355.
Hadi, through a private member’s bill, proposes to empower shariah courts to impose up to 30 years’ imprisonment, 100 strokes of the cane and a fine of up to RM100,000.
Umno and PAS, the two main parties for Malays in the country, have shared the same stage on issues involving the Muslims, such as the oppression of Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingya. Opposition leaders have also voiced concern that the two parties have a common agenda on the hudud bill.
“The unprecedented step of ‘taking over’ PAS’ attempt at back-door hudud is a betrayal to Tunku Abdul Rahman and our earlier leaders who started the dream of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious democracy.
“This ‘taking over’ as announced by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is a political betrayal by Umno to its partners and is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional,” Zaid said.
There was no need for the hudud bill as no shariah court in the country has ever said it could not do justice due to inadequate powers, he added.
Likewise, he said no state Islamic religious council had submitted a memorandum to enhance sentencing powers to the extent of Hadi’s proposal.
Zaid also said that none of the people who are involved in the administration of the shariah courts – including judges, prosecutors and even the Malay rulers – had ever asked for this amendment to Act 355, because there was never a need to do so.
“So why has Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government and Hadi conjured up this plan? It’s a political idea conceived by Umno and PAS leaders who are hoping to mislead Muslims into thinking that these politicians are the ‘champions of Islam’.
“They hope that, with this, they will win in the next general election. Do you think the Malays can’t see through that?” he said, dismissing the idea that hudud would be a rallying point for the two parties.
In the end, Zaid said, not even the Election Commission’s constituency redelineation exercise excluding Selangor would be enough to save BN.