In the aftermath of the 1999 general election when PAS captured Terengganu as part of Barisan Alternatif with allies Keadilan, PRM and DAP, a journalist asked Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang if the alliance meant the party had ditched its Islamic state idea.
His answer was short. “No,” he said. After all, his party colleagues in Kelantan had kept the state for nine years then and had already introduced hudud laws in 1993, albeit without any success in implementing it.
Barisan Alternatif broke down two years later when PAS insisted on Malaysia as an Islamic state in September 2001, prompting DAP to walk out of the pact. Incidentally, Hadi and his Terengganu government lost in the 2004 general election.
It would take another four years later for DAP to agree to not contesting against PAS and PKR – the merger of Keadilan and PRM – in the 2008 elections. And for both the 2008 and 2013 election campaigns, PAS kept quiet about its Islamic state idea, preferring to push its Islamic welfare state concept.
They won big in 2008, keeping Kelantan and taking Kedah but not as well in 2013 when they lost Kedah. And PAS crawled back to what it knows best – an Islamic state in its only possession – Kelantan.
This, in a nutshell, is PAS’s arrogance and ignorance.
It lost Terengganu and Kedah after one term, because it focused on puritanical Islamic governance, the need for criminal punishment and never on what the electorate wanted in a government – a fair, just and clean administration.
It is also the same in Kelantan, a state the Islamist party has kept more due to the sheer force of its late spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat’s personality and simple lifestyle rather than having or enforcing hudud laws.
But Nik Aziz is dead. And all PAS has is hudud laws, laws which they arrogantly believe will be good for Kelantan and the country.
Because thieves, murderers, adulterers and others will quake in fear that there are enough witnesses to rat on them and enough stones to kill them in Malaysia.
They are wrong. The Malaysian electorate that gave them more votes than they gave the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government just want a better life – economically, socially and spiritually.
They want less taxes, a government that does not spend frivolously, one that knows the difference between opinion and sedition, a police force that hunts crooks, not cyberspace commentators.
They want a government where there is equality and equity. Not one that tells them some matters are beyond their knowledge and purview, and that the government knows best. But PAS ignores this, the injustices of daily life and the scandals that rip bigger-than-ever black holes in Malaysia’s economy and finances.
They are arrogant to think that hudud laws will be the cure for the ills that bedevil our society. They are wrong because such laws, if and when they are allowed to be enforced, only punish those left behind in Kelantan.
This arrogance of PAS needs to be punished by Malaysians at every level – state and parliamentary. And this punishment must also flow to the so-called moderates who still want to be under the umbrella of this so-called political party.
If they don’t speak up, then they are part of the PAS that is more focused on just policing people’s lives and faith, rather than running a country and ensuring there is no poverty.
Hudud laws do nothing for people already suffering from a slumping ringgit, a sour economy and the advent of consumption tax.
Similarly if PKR and DAP insist on defending PAS for political expediency, they, too, need to be punished.
Because this hudud bill is not some ordinary private member’s bill. It changes the complexion and tone of Malaysia forever. – March 19, 2015.
* Jahabar Sadiq runs The Malaysian Insider.