KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — Without any guarantee that Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB) will not eventually seek to enforce hudud in Malaysia, its allies are banking on the shared goal of defeating Barisan Nasional (BN) to prevent a meltdown similar to Pakatan Rakyat.
Unlike PAS that has adamantly pushed for hudud despite its partners’ objections, the leaders of PKR and DAP believe the group that has splintered from the Islamist party is committed to forming a united coalition to take hold of Putrajaya.
“There is no assurance. In political formulas, we are constantly making decisions...we cannot force GHB to make a secular position against hudud.
“But what we can do is create a coalition where we can unite on common objectives to fight against a corrupted Umno and BN,” PKR-vice-president Chua Tian Chang told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
The Batu MP said that the parties cannot escape dealing with issues of “different ideologies”, and that the only thing opposition parties could do was to be tolerant of these ideological differences and focus on common ground.
But Chua conceded that there was no assurance that problems will not occur should GHB decide to push for hudud, which had led to the disintegration of the now-defunct PR opposition pact.
“It is idealistic for DAP leaders to want parties like GHB to fight solely on issues of social democracy, welfare and basic rights.
“We cannot stop parties from pursuing their own agenda… but in issues (like hudud) can only happen with a collective agreement, so it’s not something that PAS or GHB can demand by themselves,” he added.
DAP’s Liew Chin Tong pointed out that PAS has always had two main factions since the Reformasi days of 1998: conservatives who occupy a more hardline position on race and religion and progressives who were willing to work with other parties on common issues.
With the formation of GHB, PAS was now only left with the conservative leadership, he added.
“Progressive leaders in PAS are fully aware that they have to occupy the middle ground and not to push for moral high ground.
“Therefore for us (DAP) and whoever wants to fight Umno, the focus is not on race, religion or royalty but democratisation and economic justice,” Liew told Malay Mail Online.
Liew said that GHB leaders understand that the “hudud narrative” is irrelevant and cannot be used as a single agenda to campaign on, adding that it was more important to champion issues such as economic equality, quality of life, and reforms.
He also claimed that Malaysia’s hudud debate was “peculiar” as other international Islamic movements do not push the controversial Islamic law as a single agenda.
Liew traced this to 1982 when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim left the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) to join Umno, who then triggered the ongoing religious auction with PAS.
“Now with Harapan Baru we can start to reshape the debate on hudud… Harapan Baru is cognisant that you cannot fight on Umno’s terms, and to compete on who is more Islamic or more Malay,” the Kluang MP said.
DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke concurred with his party colleague, saying that HB was different from PAS because its leaders understood the need to maintain strong ties between opposition parties in order to ever have a chance at capturing Putrajaya.
“Leaders from HB have more political acumen and understand the bigger picture.
“They will not risk breaking ties to pursue their own agenda, be it hudud or whatever else,” he told Malay Mail Online.
GHB has has defended the right to push for hudud law in the country, but says it will not be its main priority for the time being as the main focus should be on rebuilding a “vibrant democracy” in Malaysia.
GHB secretary-general Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told Malay Mail Online recently while that hudud has a critical role to play it cannot be deliberated or considered before a good, transparent government is in place.