“We agree to disagree” screamed the headlines, claiming that the DAP and PAS have sorted out their differences with regards to hudud. However, if you understand a modicum of English, it simply means that you have agreed not to pursue the matter…for now. You are basically only delaying the explosion.
Pakatan Rakyat has been desperately trying to put the lid on their internal dispute over the hudud and Islamic state issue, knowing full well that it will be a decisive factor in the upcoming general election. They are, in essence, lying shamefacedly to the rakyat that everything is hunky dory in fantasy land just to buy time in a desperate bid to attain Putrajaya..
After all, hudud and the establishment of an Islamic state have been the main agenda of PAS for the past 60 years. It is therefore no surprise that the majority of its supporters cannot accept its shift towards a welfare state, which the current leadership had to compromise the Islamic struggle for political expediency.
The issue has been simmering on the back burner as the elections draw near, although it is considered a taboo subject among the opposition chiefs after PAS shifted its struggle from an Islamic state to just setting up a welfare state.
These simmering frustrations erupted into a fully fledged volcano at the meetings of the Dewan Pemuda and Dewan Ulama at the PAS muktamar recently, highlighting the uncertainties about how it will fare in the general election and unhappiness among conservatives that the party has strayed from its Islamic agenda.
The Youth wing led the charge by being critical of the party and its leaders. The muktamar staged in Kota Baru was to give a boost to the PAS government in Kelantan. However, the feeling persisted that after 22 years of power, Kelantan is no longer a fixed deposit state for PAS.
No doubt PAS is as hungry for power as the next political party but its members rightfully want assurances that their Islamic State agenda and religious principles will not take second place to the interests of their Pakatan partners.
The pent-up frustration of the PAS grassroots over its testy relationship with its Pakatan Rakyat partners has flared out in the open, with the Dewan Ulama reaffirming its hudud agenda while hitting out at leaders who “confuse” members.
So what went wrong? By right, everything should be smelling of roses when the PAS muktamar started, as the party is being led by the “dream team” which it elected last year. The maverick Datuk Dr Hasan Ali has been sacked and the other thorn Nasharudin Mat Isa was not attending the muktamar.
Party president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang had been persuaded to defend his seat in Terengganu and forget about retiring so soon. Mursyidul Am Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, 82, had been persuaded to stay on to lead the Kelantan campaign despite being in poor health.
Yet, there was general unhappiness all around with party leaders having difficulty trying to shake off that impending feeling that the Malay ground has shifted in favor of Umno. They certainly cannot afford a deficit in Malay support if they want to hold on to the 23 parliamentary seats they won in 2008.
Yet the muktamar took place under a cloud of uncertainty about the party's role and direction in the Pakatan Rakyat set-up. The traditional hardcore supporters are riddled with doubts about the party’s compromise on its Islamic agenda.
PAS has been sailing uncharted waters ever since the non-ulama won big in last year's party election and members are rightfully concerned that the party's focus is now being determined by political expediency rather than Islamic principles.
They are concerned about the way their religion is being vocally and openly questioned, especially by non-Muslims, and they do not like it. Adding to their sorrows is the fact that some of those raising those questions are their own Pakatan bedfellows.
Of course, it did not help matters that this year's theme very boldly declared the party's push for the “Welfare State as the Basis for Unity”.
The ultra-conservative Dewan Ulama chief Datuk Harun Taib offered a fierce defense of hudud law, declaring that the PAS ulama would never compromise on the issue of hudud. He stridently disapproved of his fellow party leaders who have been trying to downplay fundamental issues like hudud for the sake of winning Putrajaya. Neither did he make any reference to the Welfare State which many see as an attempt to rebrand the Islamic State.
As expected, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek was targeted but rather surprisingly DAP Chairman Karpal Singh who has also been vocal on the issue escaped censure. The leadership of the Dewan Pemuda also came under fire for not taking a stronger stand to defend the party and its policies.
Dewan Pemuda chief Nasrudin Hassan was not spared the whip either. After two terms, he is infamous for opposing Valentine's Day celebrations and rock concerts.
He has failed to create a positive national presence and under his leadership the wing has regressed to its rural base.
Nasrudin’s deputy Nik Abduh Nik Aziz, the son of Nik Aziz, on the other hand has emerged as a worthwhile challenger to look out for. He has strongly independent views and he was unapologetic for the critical tone at the Dewan Pemuda meeting. He is all set to take over and he will lead the wing in an even more conservative direction.
Even party propaganda organs Harakah and its online portal Harakahdaily found themselves in the firing line, being criticized for being slanted towards the views of the liberals in the party and of not giving enough coverage to the ulama viewpoint.
Dewan chief Datuk Harun Taib declared that PAS would be steadfast on its plans to implement hudud law despite the barrage of contrary views from outside the party.
Harun said the championing of hudud was part of the party's Islamic agenda to make it the law of the land.
According to him, Pakatan had agreed that not only hudud but also Syariah law would be implemented if PAS had the majority in Parliament.
Meanwhile Negri Sembilan delegate Mohd Zulkarnain Mohd Zaki rapped the Youth leadership for not setting policies on entertainment, sports, jobs and the economy for PKR and DAP to follow, while Johor delegate Mohd Faizal Khalid also criticized the Youth leadership for failing to speak up against Pakatan leaders “who have erred”.
“The wing is supposed to be a pressure group pushing for change but we do not hear any criticism from them against Pakatan governments,” he said when debating the keynote address of Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan at the 53rd Youth Muktamar
Not to be outdone, the Penang delegate Hasbul Wizar said PAS should be the dominant party in Pakatan and Selangor delegate Sharhan Humaizi Halim agreed, saying that Pakatan-controlled states should be administered according to the Islamic model.
Pahang delegate Fadli Ibrahim said the ulama leadership should be maintained because “they were instrumental in ensuring great victory in the last general election”. He went on to say that “germs, snakes and poisons” should be eliminated from the party.
The Spanker believes that PAS has finally woken up from its sireh pinang kampong afternoon siesta and that it will speak out loud and strong to send a clear message that it will neither bow down to DAP nor PKR in its efforts to pursue its 60 year old objective of an Islamic state. They may even take Anwar head on and challenge his leadership of the leaky PR boat.
And there you have it, folks. The PR has always been a slipshod coalition held together by a band-aid. The cracks have now developed into fissures and craters. Not only is the circus definitely in town but the clowns are leading the parade. I would think and deliberate very carefully before casting my vote.