PAS’ Act 355 rally a big flop?

PAS’ Act 355 rally a big flop?

COMMENT The recent PAS rally in support of the private member’s bill tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 turned out to be a damp squib – or in simple English – a big flop!

It was a flop in several ways. Firstly, although PAS had targeted a crowd of 300,000 to show the country that the Malay electorate was behind the controversial amendment, police and analysts estimated the crowd at only 20,000.

The turnout – so much smaller than even Bersih – or Hindraf-organised past rallies – not only shows that this issue does not resonate with the Malay public. It also shows that the reputed grassroots support for PAS has been overrated.

Although in the past we have seen the organisational ability of PAS in drawing the Malay Muslim crowd to rally alongside non-Muslims in Bersih and Pakatan rallies, this time round the Malay public stayed away.

If the thinking in PAS ulama leaders led by Hadi is that his proposed amendments would serve as its main political strategy in order to attract greater support, it is clear that grassroots supporters do not want to give wider powers to the syariah court and to be made use of by Hadi in his ambition to push for an Islamic state in Malaysia.

Which Malay in his right mind wants to see an increase in maximum punishment for syariah offences to 30 years’ jail, fine of up to RM100,000 and up to 100 strokes of the cane for offences?

Which rational Malaysian wants to see the introduction of a two-tier legal system, in which Muslims will be discriminated against as proposed by Hadi and his men, and which could also result in hudud being a reality in our multiracial Malaysia?

I am sure that many, if not most Malays, will agree with lawyer activist Siti Kasim (photo), who has pointed out that PAS’ statement that the syariah laws are God’s law is incorrect. Siti has noted:

“As a Malay, I am the most oppressed. We are told what to wear, what to drink, what to eat and even how to think. Every aspect of our life, we are told what to do.

“If it’s truly God’s law, I will not go against it. But I know for sure that this is not God’s law, this is Hadi’s law.”

The rally’s poor attendance was not only a big slap in the face for Hadi. It was also a similar slap in the face for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Umno.

The Malay public is well aware that Najib has been playing footsie with Hadi on Islamic issues as a quid pro quo for Hadi keeping quiet on the 1MDB, donation into the Prime Minister’s account and other scandals which have caused Najib and Umno to lose popular support.

During the rally, Minister in the PM’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom said he attended the PAS rally after getting the green light from Najib. Besides Jamil, his deputy, Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, was also there in a show of strength by the present leadership of Umno to show off its new found solidarity with PAS.

Growing disillusionment of Umno members

But the ordinary Umno members, despite given the go ahead to attend the rally refused to do so. This accounts for the small crowd in what was in effect a combined PAS-Umno rally. To me this shows the growing disillusionment of Umno members with Najib’s and Hadi’s marriage of convenience.

Umno members must have known that they were being made use of. Thus, despite the presence of two senior Umno ministers at the rally, they preferred to stay at home!

If the Act 355 rally was a flop for PAS and Umno, the opposition should take heart and feel encouraged. Amanah leaders, especially, should be comforted that the Muslim support for Act 355 has been overrated.

They should now go into the kampung with a campaign that shows that Hadi has little moral or religious standing or integrity because of his silence on Felda scandals, corruption, the goods and services tax (GST) and the many other issues that affect the Malay rural masses.

PAS’ Act 355 rally a big flop?
Koon Yew Yin
21 Feb 2017 – malaysiakin


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