Hornbill Unleashed

November 19, 2013

Pakatan’s stand on religious issues is a smart move, say political analysts

Pakatan Rakyat top leaders, (from left) PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, PKR de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang. The coalition's stand on religious issues has been described as 'smart' by analysts. - The Malaysian Insider pic, November 17, 2013.JENNIFER GOMEZ

Pakatan Rakyat top leaders, (from left) PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, PKR de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang. The coalition’s stand on religious issues has been described as ‘smart’ by analysts. – The Malaysian Insider pic, November 17, 2013.With the many religious controversies taking place in the country now, political analysts described the stand taken by Pakatan Rakyat in reacting, rather than taking pro-active measures, as “smart”.

They felt that by reacting to the issues, rather than coming out with a clear policy on religious issues, PR lawmakers have avoided walking into a Barisan Nasional trap.

Recently, the opposition lawmakers have been very vocal on the controversial Allah ruling, the slaughter of cows in schools and the demolition of the 101-year-old Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman Hindu temple in the city centre.

Political analysts Khoo Kay Peng says there is no need for Pakatan Rakyat to make a clear stand on religious issues. - Facebook pic, November 17, 2013.

Political analysts Khoo Kay Peng says there is no need for Pakatan Rakyat to make a clear stand on religious issues. – Facebook pic, November 17, 2013.Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng, in dubbing it a “honeymoon period” for PR, explained there was no need for the opposition coalition to make a clear stand on religious issues.

“The main strategy for Pakatan now is not to make a stand on issues that touch on grey areas, especially religion, to avoid getting attacked by Umno.

“They have avoided this all along and it is clearly working,” he said.

Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Professor Dr Jayum Jawan agreed, adding that PR was playing “good politics”.

He said that rather than come up with a stand for which they are bound to be attacked by their political opponents, this was a safer approach.

“Commenting on issues is better than coming up with a stand. They are also trying to avoid being attacked by their opponents, so they are playing good politics and this is expected of a political party,” he explained.

Jayum, however, added that it would be beneficial for PR to come up with a broad policy on religion, so that they don’t contradict each other later and save them the ordeal of having to repeatedly make statements on the same issues that keep cropping up over and over again.

“This way, the public would also be able to see that they are a united front.”

But Khoo felt that PR could continue operating with their present strategy, given that there are no demands from the rakyat for them to make a stand.

“Pakatan is issue-centric, where they react to controversies created by BN, especially Umno. This is why they are popular.

“They are riding on this wave of harping on Umno’s mistakes and flip-flops and it is clearly working,” he said, adding that PR was benefitting from the perception and anger of the people towards BN by capitalising on Putrajaya’s mistakes.

PKR's Surendran thinks it is not right to assume that PR does not have a stand on religious issues.PKR’s Surendran thinks it is not right to assume that PR does not have a stand on religious issues.Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president N. Surendran agreed, pointing out that as long as PR did not hold federal power, its role was to pressure the government to change their conduct.

Surendran also said that the role of the opposition in Malaysia was “highly important” as it had to deal with a “highly corrupt and oppressive government”.

According to Khoo, another reason why PR avoided making a stand on religious issues was because what works for one party may not go down well with another in the opposition pact.

“The Allah ruling is an easy one for them. But when it comes to Islamic state and implementing syariah laws or even local council guidelines for businesses in Kelantan, for example, it would be tough for them to agree,” he pointed out.

He added that the only time PR would need to make a clear stand on religious issues is when they control Putrajaya.

Surendran, the Padang Serai MP who was ejected from Parliament earlier this week for trying to push through an emergency motion over the demolition of the Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman Hindu temple, stressed that it was not right to assume that PR did not have a stand on religious issues.

“We articulate openly and freely and send the message of the people to the powers that be,” he said, adding that this should not be seen as merely reacting to issues.

DAP politician Liew Chin Tong  and Kluang MP pointed out that while PR did have a clear stand on issues affecting the rakyat, they had to thread carefully to avoid getting into BN and Umno’s trap which commonly use race and religion to divide the people and the opposition pact.

“We need a new framework for the nation, where the political system is democratised and allows for more consultation on issues for which there is no black and white answers.

“But what we have is Umno manipulating to divide the people in order to expand their base, so we need to thread carefully,” he pointed out.

He said that if Umno succeeded and the opposition was split up, there would be no alternative government-in-waiting.

PAS lawmaker and Parit Buntar MP Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa agreed with Liew on the need to thread carefully, pointing out also many of the recent issues deemed “religious” were in fact politically motivated, as such they were careful not to walk into BN’s trap.

“For instance, the Court of Appeal ruling on the Allah issue is politically motivated, therefore people must be matured enough to understand and decide for themselves what it is really all about,” said Mujahid.

Mujahid said that PR, in fact, had a clear stand on religion, which was based on the Federal Constitution, where Islam is the religion of the state and other religions can be practised freely.

“This is our raison d’etre, so to speak, and we have communicated this to the people,” he said, adding that whatever political changes happen in the country, PR’s stand would always be based on the Constitution.

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2 Comments »

  1. Guess they’re not as bold as Taib Mahmud. How sad.

    Comment by Audrey Meligai — November 20, 2013 @ 12:11 AM | Reply

  2. Smart move? Really?? This so-called smart move will ”kill” them during the election. How long can PR avoid making their stand on this anyway…

    Comment by Melanie — November 19, 2013 @ 5:41 PM | Reply


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