According to Harakahdaily, Mahathir’s condition is that PAS leaves Pakatan Rakyat, the coalition led by his nemesis Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. Many analysts rate the Pakatan as having a real chance to wrest the federal government from the BN in the next general election which is widely expected to be held within the next few months.
“UMNO will ensure a fully compliant Islamic state if PAS has a big heart to join UMNO. Other Islamic countries are also putting hope on Malaysia, but there are still people wanting to split the Muslims. That’s why our goal is not achieved,” Malay daily Sinar Harian had quoted Mahathir as saying.
The former UMNO president had once threatened to impose emergency in the form of ‘Mageran’ (National Operation Council) on Kelantan if the state went ahead and implemented hudud on Muslims convicted of serious crimes.
Mahathir had also previously remarked that if hudud laws were implemented, there would be many Muslims without limbs. He labeled the laws which include beheading, stoning to death, whipping as well as amputation of limbs as being outdated, adding that the Islamic laws’ requirement for solid evidence and witnesses meant it could not be applied in the modern context.
Willing to bypass all the other races & religions
Mahathir’s backtracking has put a cat among the pigeons. While it may rile DAP leaders, it also challenges non-Muslim component parties in the BN such as the MCA, MIC, Gerakan and the Christian-majority East Malaysian parties.
However, Pakatan leaders say it is the Muslims in PAS that Mahathir is really targeting.
“I think Mahathir has just told PAS members that if they really want hudud and an Islamic state, they should join hands with UMNO. This is the fastest way for PAS to have a realistic chance to get the two-thirds majority in Parliament it needs to pass hudud,” PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle.
“It is also a most unethical statement as usual from Dr M. It suggests that he and UMNO are willing to bypass the non-Malays in the governing of this country. To retain power, UMNO is willing to shut out all the other races and all the other religions to form a monopoly with PAS. Of course, PKR is confident that PAS will rebuff such an underhanded move.”
Unlike UMNO and despite pressure from Pakatan partner DAP, PAS has never wavered from publicly stating hudud as one of its ultimate aspirations along with the creation of a ‘true’ Islamic state as the Muslim religion is its raison d’etre.
Nonetheless, party leaders from president Hadi Awang to Spiritual Adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat have assured that any implementation of hudud would affect only Muslims and pledged they would respect the Federal Constitution, which means that they accept they will have to wait until they managed to swing the necessary majority in Parliament required to get the Bill passed.
“We are either Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs or others. Islam celebrates religious plurality and acknowledges the ‘claim of exclusivity to its belief and teachings’ and accords a respect to the ‘absolutist doctrine’ of all transcendental religions,” PAS strategist and MP for Kuala Selangor Dzulkefly Ahmad said in a recent blog posting entitled A political contest beyond Hudud.
“And the bottom-line is, we are all Malaysians by way of belonging to one nation called Malaysia. Yes that is the identity we all share and cherish together, to have a nation worthy of our love, respect and sacrifice.
A political analyst had also told Harakahdaily that Mahathir’s latest remark showed that UMNO was in “serious trouble” in winning the hearts and minds of Muslims.
“Mahathir did not want to see hudud implemented at all cost when he was in power with two third majority for 22 years. Now he says he wants.
“He is just capitalising on the growing anger against DAP’s Karpal Singh to solidify Malay votes for UMNO, which he knows is faced with a historic defeat. The party is in serious trouble,” she added.
The UMNO-owned media has been involved in a campaign to portray DAP as being anti-Islam following Karpal’s remarks opposing PAS’s plan to implement hudud law on Muslims. The campaign includes a statement by a little-known Muslim preacher in Kelantan who declared that it is haram (illicit) for Muslims to vote for DAP.
Critics have lashed out at the so-called ‘pondok fatwa’ (Islamic ruling from a small-time cleric), pointing out that by the same logic, Muslims should also not vote for candidates from MCA and Gerakan which have strongly opposed any form of Islamic laws.