PAS and Hudud

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In an effort to clear the air once and for all, with GE13 just around the corner, PAS’ top leadership has made clear that because Pakatan Rakyat’s Buku Jingga — its alleged common policy framework — does not mention hudud law, PAS has no intention of attempting to make hudud part of the national law. It will instead focus on the common, welfare-state principles on which all of the Opposition pact’s common parties can agree, ending once and for all the bitter war between DAP leadership and various PAS officials.

The year is 2011, and the same series of events is doomed to play out again a year later.

A portion of the rakyat only pays attention to politics as general elections near, so for their sake, it is perhaps worth reviewing PAS’ ever-evolving stance on hudud law. Beginning after PAS’ complete defeat in the Sarawak state elections — where all five of its candidates were butchered and DAP saw unprecedented gains — PAS decided that an image change was in order.

And so last year PAS elected its first non-ulim for leadership in a quarter-century, Mat Sabu, whose thoughts on the heroes of the Bukit Kepong police station would later torment PAS in new ways. To great fanfare, PAS also announced that it was more interested in promulgating a welfare state than an Islamic state.

This set in motion a chain of events that led, in no particular order, to a revolt by PAS faithful who had been fairly certain they’d signed up for an Islamic state; a reversal in which PAS declared that hudud law would be the law of the nation should they take Putrajaya; a war of words with DAP’s Karpal Singh (in which Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim briefly sided with PAS before announcing that PKR did not); and the party turmoil that led to Datuk Dr Hasan Ali and his compatriots leaving PAS in a huff.

All was more or less quiet until calls for hudud erupted again from PAS leadership ranks, driving poor Karpal Singh to once again take up his weary battle against his Pakatan nominal-ally. The truce in the war of words ended and soon DAP and PAS were at war again. PKR, as usual, was nowhere to be seen.

And so the story has now come full-circle. PAS secretary-general Mustafa Ali announced Monday that the entire thing had been a great misunderstanding. “We have solved this issue last year, and we are sticking to the common policy included in the Buku Jingga,” he said.

The small issue of the relentless implementation of hudud in PAS-dominated Kelantan needed explaining away, but Mustafa was ready. “In the case of Kelantan, their enactment existed before Pakatan Rakyat did. Even then, they are setting up a committee to oversee its implementation,” Mustafa said, before helpfully adding, “On the other hand, there are no such plans to implement hudud in Kedah.”

The unspoken yet mercifully did not elicit audible laughter.

All of this doubtless comes as news to two groups of people: DAP and PAS. This battle erupts with some regularity because no one in PAS actually believes this rubbish; PAS’ entire existence, since its split with Umno before Merdeka, has been about the imposition of hudud law. The notion that PAS suddenly discovered a new purpose in life is no more credible now than it was last summer.

DAP, of course, is officially in favour of a secular public sphere, and composed almost exclusively of Chinese who are either Christian or Buddhist or something besides Muslim. There is as yet no indication that they believe PAS either.

Indeed, the entire subtext of the most recent spat was “Do not provide weapons to Umno”. Karpal Singh basically said as much during one of his broadsides against PAS. Even he appears to believe that PAS is serious about hudud; it is merely something that cannot be brought to the rakyat without destroying DAP’s chances with its Chinese base, and Pakatan’s chances with almost everyone else.

At the current pace of battle, the entire spat will return to a low simmer for almost exactly two months, at which time it will erupt again, with DAP and PAS at war over hudud and Anwar unable to resolve the fight.

With the fortune bestowed on PAS over the last year, GE13 will be underway at that exact moment. – The Choice