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Hudud: Is Karpal fighting lone battle?

 | August 6, 2012

With the clock ticking away, it is imperative that the DAP-PAS verbal war over the hudud issue be dealt with as quickly as possible.


The DAP-PAS row over the latter’s refusal to budge from the hudud issue has reached a boiling point and, if not dealt with quickly and wisely, this altercation is going to deal a severe blow to Pakatan Rakyat’s mission of becoming the next federal government.

Leading the objecion to PAS’ determination to implement the Islamic law should Pakatan win the coming 13th general election is DAP national chairman and seasoned lawyer Karpal Singh.

Karpal remains steadfast in rejecting any plans by PAS to put in place the hudud law. And to prove that he means business, Karpal recently once again warned PAS to drop any idea of turning its dream of setting up an Islamic state and instituting hudud laws into reality.

The aggressive lawyer is worried that PAS’ stubborness in wanting to do so will only sabotage Pakatan’s chances in the coming polls.

Karpal had said: “PAS is only scuttling Pakatan Rakyat’s march to Putrajaya in the coming election with contradictory statements on its stand on Islamic state. Hudud is not included in the Pakatan’s common policy framework, Buku Jingga. Likewise, it will not be included in the common manifesto of Pakatan.”

Prior to Karpal’s remarks, PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi claimed that those rejecting God’s laws would be considered “kufur”, an Arabic word often translated as “disbelievers”.

According to the New Straits Times, Nasrudin, in a posting on Twitter, had said: “Karpal is consistent in rejecting hudud because he is a kufur. PAS must continue with its struggle to uphold Islam.”

That led to the DAP-PAS scuffle, with Karpal urging PAS to “stop supplying cannon fodder to the Barisan Nasional to be aimed at Pakatan”, saying that it was “counter productive and politically naive”.

Karpal also cautioned Nasrudin to “mind his language” and also questioned if the latter was the “spokesman of PAS”.

“I must warn this political upstart to mind his language. No one, no party, no organisation can claim to have a monopoly on God. I must state with all the force at my command that I believe in God. There is only one God and all religions reflect that,” Karpal shot back at Nasrudin.

Is PAS clear on what it wants?

Karpal is worried that PAS’ ambiguous “yes” and then “no” and “yes” stand on its hudud laws and Islamic state agenda will spoil Pakatan’s chances in the 13th general election.

The lawyer, better known as the “Tiger of Jelutong”, for his 20 years of service as the MP for Jelutong, recalls that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had on June 3 last year publicly stated that the Quran mentioned a “welfare state”, not an “Islamic state”.

“This reflects beyond the pale of a doubt that PAS has given up its aim to set up an Islamic state. PAS has, clearly, opted for a welfare state,” Karpal said.

To Karpal, as hudud was a component of the Islamic state, “any attempt by PAS now to espouse the introduction of hudud in the country would badly reflect on the decisions made during the last PAS muktamar – shifting its agenda for an Islamic state to a more inclusive ‘welfare state’”.

Another point that Karpal raised was that on June 8 last year, the New Straits Times quoted PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat as saying that the party was right in shifting its focus from

“Islamic state” to “welfare state”.

Clearly, PAS’s inability to make up its mind might just worsen the debate over the hudud issue, with Karpal left wondering what more would it take for PAS to come to its senses instead of confusing and worrying supporters of Pakatan.

Does Karpal have the support he needs

While Karpal continues to defend DAP’s refusal to entertain PAS’ hudud and Islamic state agenda, ironically, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and his son and party secretary-general Guan Eng have been silent on the Islamist issue.

This is equally worrying for it makes one wonder whether Karpal actually has all the support he needs in putting an end to PAS’ hudud and Islamic state controversy.

Or is Karpal fighting a lone battle here?

It does not seem so, going by the support shown by DAP Bagan Dalam state representative A Tanasekharan who reproached Terengganu PAS Youth chief Mohd Nor Hamzah for “being rude” by calling on Karpal to quit politics over the Islamist party’s hudud issue.

Mohd Nor also claimed that Karpal’s “outdated views” had become a liability to Pakatan” The Bukit Payung assemblyman claimed that Karpal’s media outbursts against the implementation of hudud had strained the relationship among Pakatan parties.

To this, Tanasekharan said: “Who is he to call Karpal to quit… is he qualified to do so in the first place? It’s rude, uncalled-for and unjustifiable.”

Tanasekharan said Karpal was consistently the most vocal elected representative to voice out against any threat against the secular ideals of the Malaysian constitution.

To Tanasekharan, it was about Karpal being duty-bound to criticise PAS’ unconstitutional and extreme Islamist agenda, which posed a threat to national unity in the long run.

And he further admonished Nor Hamzah, saying he had to learn to show respect to elders like Karpal, given the DAP leader’s political experience.

With the clock ticking away, it is imperative that the DAP-PAS verbal war over the hudud issue be dealt with as quickly as possible; otherwise, the Islamic agenda being harboured by PAS would throw a spanner in the works as far as Pakatan’s objective of gaining control over Putrajaya is concerned.

As for Karpal, be it a lone battle or otherwise, what is evident is that he has regularly spoken against the PAS Islamic brand, a move which the Islamic party’s leaders refuse to accept, claiming instead that Karpal is all alone in the DAP opposing it.

Does PAS’ claim that Karpal is all alone in rejecting the hudud and Islamic state issue hold water? Or, for that matter, will the DAP and Pakatan stalwarts take a stand and lend Karpal the much- needed support?

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.


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