Consistency could become PAS’ biggest enemy

 |Feb 25, 2017
File pic credit Facebook Himpunan 355.
File pic credit Facebook Himpunan 355.

OPINION

With the general election looming, it appears that PAS is adamant to proceed without the help of what used to be its allies.

While cooperation with former Premier Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) almost completely down the drain, its ties with PKR is also set to undergo a reevaluation during the party’s upcoming national convention (muktamar).

So where does that leave PAS?

Some may say PAS is being arrogant, but one thing the party should be credited for, is its consistency.

Whether it is a stand that will end up burying them further or strengthen their hold is still up for debate.

However, one thing that is rather obvious is that PAS has yet to achieve political comprehension when it comes to setting up base in a multi-racial country like Malaysia.

Not to undermine their attempt to empower the sharia courts, to the rational-minded segment of the society, this is an effort that is being taken up at the worst possible time.

There are various other issues that are begging to be solved, yet PAS feels it is necessary to stir the religious sentiments amongst Muslims all over the country to amend the Sharia Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 355, that, if passed in Parliament, will only apply to Kelantan.

One PAS leader in Perak, Razman Zakaria, even saw it fit to post on his Facebook page that those who did not attend the Act 355 Rally were supporters of Ahok, the Indonesian governor who courted controversy for allegedly insulting the Quran.

In Razman’s defence, he later clarified his earlier statement, by adding, “PAS members who can’t go down to the ground to support Act 355, don’t be grouped in those who oppose Act 355 and support DAP. Your vote is for PAS.”

Still, the simple act of equating those who did not attend the rally as not being supportive of Islam was a classic example of ‘keep em scared, keep em stupid’.

If anything, the rally which took place last Saturday was unnecessary.

Simply because the private member’s bill on amending the Act 355 has been tabled in Parliament and is due to be debated in the next sitting.

What would a premature rally achieve?

It is different if the bill had been debated and rejected.

However PAS opted to stir sentiments and hold the rally even after Parliament had accepted its president Abdul Hadi Awang’s motion and the bill is already in queue to be debated amongst the 222 parliamentarians come the next sitting.

Empowering the sharia courts should not be a political thing.

Gathering a sea of people clad in purple at Padang Merbok could have also been a way to measure support for the party after it broke ties with DAP and rejected Mahathir’s hand to cooperate.

Prior to the rally, there was talk that they expected a crowd of 200,000.

After the rally, its deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said why argue over numbers.

What is important.he said, is to uphold Islamic laws, not based on the number of supporters, but because it is Allah SWT’s command.

The problem many PAS members fail to see is how the whole amendment issue went sideways from the start, simply due to bad communication.

The word hudud was mentioned almost from the starting line and that is the only thing those who are opposing the amendment are fixating on.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Sadly, one side is not explaining it properly and the other side is blowing the whole thing out of proportion.

Is Act 355 a way of getting Malay support? Or is PAS truly serious about upholding Islam?

The latter is true, to a certain extent.

The only problem is PAS is overlooking various other ways that it can work on to uphold Islam, and instead choose to fixate on Act 355.

While there is nothing wrong in empowering the sharia courts, it should also focus on other measures of upholding Islam, particularly in creating awareness and focusing on strengthening the education aspect.

Meanwhile, Abdul Hadi’s private member’s bill is just one of PAS’ many hurdles.

Faced with criticism from outside, it is also battling criticism from within. One example is its Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar who may be made to face the party’s disciplinary board for his remarks that appear to contradict with the party’s national stand.

It is sad really, to see a party that can be credited for being consistent in its fight, yet failing to capitalise on it to propel itself to greater heights.

As it stands, PAS needs to prioritise.

The sooner it realises how to strategise between fighting to amend Act 355 and charting a proper course towards the general election, the better for the Islamist party and its supporters.

It is not nice to scare people with rhetoric.

What is important is to empower the public with knowledge and facts.

That is the only way we can move forward as a nation and better ourselves in the long run.

As voters, if we choose to buy into the same old argument and rhetoric, we cannot blame the political parties for the state we are in.

We can only blame ourselves if we allow politics to dictate how we think and behave.

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Farah Harith has been in the media industry since 2008. Her field of work has been predominantly centred on politics and human interest. She joined the industry to have a better grasp on the issues plaguing the masses.