25 JULY 2014
Firstly, let me say to our PR supporters how sorry I am about the widespread anxieties and anger amongst them this week that the PR looked to be on the verge of breaking down, with the DAP threatening to pull out of the coalition. Everyone should rest assured that we will do our utmost to ensure that the PR coalition remains intact and that our differences be worked out amongst ourselves.
On PKR’s part, I have made our stand on hudud very clear, that it should not be implemented in Sarawak. More importantly, the Chief Minister had, on 15 May 2014, in the Dewan Undangan Negeri declared that hudud will not be implemented in Sarawak. This announcement received widespread coverage in the news, and it was also reported that YB CJ Chong stood up to support the Chief Minister’s stand.
The Chief Minister that day spoke as the Chairman of BN Sarawak and the leader of the government with 54 state assemblymen on his side. More significantly, he spoke as a Malay leader. The Chief Minister’s word on this issue should be good enough for us. In my view, it is unnecessary to ‘flog a dead horse’ when we should be focusing on other issues affecting the people.
Our Chief Minister is the only BN leader who has declared that hudud will not be implemented in our state. In this regard, we are so much better off than the other states in Peninsula Malaysia. My only reservation, of course, is that MAIS and JAIS have yet to state their stand as to whether they are behind the Chief Minister on this.
The injudicious threat by DAP Sarawak arose from events in the nation’s capital. Hudud is essentially a national issue. It would have been more appropriate for the leaders in state DAP to privately petition their party leaders to persuade PAS national leaders to change their stance instead of playing up the issue here, knowing full well that the local PAS leaders are unable to depart from their party positions.
I will be the first to admit that as a non-Muslim, I probably do not fully understand the significance of hudud to the Muslims although I realise that hudud is central to Islamic values. I do try to, where the opportunity arises. For instance, my junior lawyers and I attended the seminar on hudud that was organised recently by the Islamic Information Centre to improve our understanding of hudud so that we are better equipped to engage in any discussions that may arise on the matter. For us to demand that PAS members announce publicly that they reject the notion of hudud is rather illogical and insensitive to our partner’s positions. Bearing in mind our strong stance that Malaysians of other faiths be accorded their constitutional rights to practice the religion of their choice, we must accordingly respect the rights of Muslims to observe and uphold their Islamic values.
Another factor to consider is that the two-party system is already in place after years of hard-fought battles by the PR coalition. Because of this, Malaysians finally have a real possibility of changing government. People are seeing the PR coalition as a viable alternative – 51% voted for us, after all, in the 2013 General Elections. With the threat of DAP Sarawak pulling out of PR, we are risking the collapse of the whole PR coalition nationwide and laying waste to the efforts of so many of our leaders, including their great statesman the late Karpal Singh. What is there to stop other state PR component parties from doing the same, if DAP Sarawak carries out its threat?
Even if the national PR remains intact should DAP Sarawak withdraw from PR, where will that leave them? The national DAP will still be with PR but not the state DAP? It is a certainty that the state BN will point out the awkward position the leadership of DAP Sarawak is in, that they are still in the PR coalition and working with PAS. Will the DAP Sarawak then have to cut the umbilical cord linking them with the national DAP?
It has already been announced many times by our national leaders that hudud is not in the agenda of the PR coalition, even if it is a PAS aspiration. We cannot escape from the fact that this is one of the core aims of PAS. Hudud has been on their agenda since 1994 when the Kelantan State Assembly passed it into law. At that time, the PR coalition had not been formed. Clinging on to the issue like a dog with a bone and harping about it is doing no favours for anyone, unless it is a political strategy that DAP Sarawak leadership in their wisdom have formulated, in which case, we stand to be advised.
In my considered view, it is better that the PR component parties focus on the many issues which are more relevant to the people, and continue to bring our message of change to the ground. Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim has just unveiled our 7 heads of promises for Sarawak – we should be concentrating on these positive issues and preparing for the forthcoming state elections instead of wasting our energy bickering about the hudud issue, which for Sarawak, should be a non-issue.
Once again, I assure our loyal friends and supporters that we will not let this incident cause the breakup of a relationship built up over a long period by the efforts of so many. Pakatan Rakyat Sarawak will remain intact and we will continue our quest to fight for a better Sarawak for Sarawakians.
I wish our Muslim friends Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf Zahir dan Batin.