KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Faced with unyielding resistance from its allies in Pakatan Rakyat (PR), PAS said it will have to turn to its political foes in Umno to push through a controversial bill in Parliament that will pave the way for the implementation of hudud in Kelantan.
Without support from Umno, which PAS has in the past repeatedly refused to form a unity government with, the Islamist party will suffer yet another setback in its long-time struggle to introduce hudud, likely inviting more criticism on its commitment to Islam.
PAS’ Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar said that a minister — with the support of 15 MPs — could easily give priority to the two private members bills — which will push for the implementation of an Islamic criminal justice system in Kelantan — to be debated in Parliament before government business.
“We will see just how sincere Umno is in giving way,” Mahfuz told The Malay Mail Online.
“It was Jamil Khir who challenged PAS in Parliament to bring forward the bills. If he is ready to give way, that means there will be ready support from Umno MPs,” the PAS information chief added, referring to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, who is in charge of religious affairs.
Umno, the ruling Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Malay party, is the largest in the Dewan Rakyat with 88 MPs. Islamist opposition party PAS has 21 federal lawmakers. Together, they comprise 109 MPs, slightly less than half of the 222-member Parliament.
PAS’ Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said that in the unlikely event that the private members bills on hudud, to be tabled by an opposition lawmaker, actually gets debated in the House, only a simple majority among those in attendance is required to pass them.
“It doesn’t mean you need 112. A hundred and twelve is if 222 MPs are present. If there are only 40, you need 21,” Khalid told The Malay Mail Online.
The PAS central working committee member added that PR allies DAP and PKR were not obliged to support the private members bills pushing for “hudud”.
“It’s not within our common policy framework. It’s not contrary to our agreement if they don’t support. We’ve always had this stand that on issues we don’t agree, we’ll agree to disagree,” said Khalid.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Monday that his party would not support the implementation of the controversial Islamic law, noting that a collective agreement from all three PR member parties must be obtained before any policy matter is adopted as the part of the pact’s common policy platform.
But Khalid stressed that the private members bills on “hudud” was only specific to Kelantan, where PAS has ruled for over two decades, and that they were not seeking to amend the Federal Constitution.
“Personally, I feel that in the event that the people in Kelantan want it to be implemented, on principles of democracy, we should allow it,” he said.
“It can be overturned later on if people are not happy. Twenty-three, 24 years, we’ve been governing Kelantan. It’s quite clear that people in Kelantan, in particular the Muslims, want to see it implemented,” the Shah Alam MP added.
He also said PAS would not campaign for Umno’s support on “hudud”, stressing that it was up to other political parties to support them.
The lawmaker did not confirm who would table the bills, or whether they would be tabled in the next Parliament sitting in June, or in the final sitting of the year.
While a proposed piece of legislation is normally introduced by the government, a private member’s bill allows a member of Parliament to propose a law instead.
In Islamic jurisprudence, “hudud” covers crimes such as theft, robbery, adultery, rape and sodomy. Punishments for the crimes are severe, including amputation, flogging and death by stoning.