Monday, January 19, 2009

Whom can we trust, PAS or Umno?

Tuesday, 13 January 2009 11:06

Raja Petra Kamarudin

When asked about his stand on Hudud, Wan Farid Wan Salleh, Barisan Nasional’s candidate for the Kuala Terengganu by-election, replied, “I don't think it's an issue.” He did not say whether he supports Hudud or opposes it. He just refused to commit himself to the issue.As I had written over the last few days, while UMNO and MCA have challenged PKR and DAP to state their stands on the Islamic State and Hudud, Umno itself will not commit itself to the issue. PAS can’t change Malaysia from a Secular State to an Islamic State.

It can’t abrogate our common laws and replace them with Islamic laws. It can’t do that now or even in the future. As has been pointed out many times, the arithmetic just does not allow PAS to do that. It’s as simple as that. It’s all about the arithmetic. And PAS has said so many times that anything it does will be according to the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and not in violation of it.Umno, however, can.

This is because, through the Barisan Nasional coalition, they have the majority in Parliament, although no longer a two-thirds majority since the 8 March 2008 general election. So we need to ask Umno, not PAS, the question. Would we ask a person who has never bought a lottery in his life what he would do with his millions if he won first prize? He may reply he would marry a second wife, go to Mekah to perform the Haj, build a school, set up an orphanage, etc.

But his reply would be purely academic since he has never bought, and will never buy, a lottery in his entire life. In fact, he considers lotteries as haram and that is why he does not want to gamble. So why ask him what he would do with his winnings if that is something that is never going to happen?But Umno is in power. They are the federal government. They are the ones, not PAS, who has the power to abrogate our laws, amend the laws, change the laws, and turn Malaysia from a Secular State into an Islamic State. So Umno must be asked this question.

And when asked, Wan Farid very deviously replies, “I don't think it's an issue.” But it is an issue. And it is an issue because UMNO and MCA have challenged PKR and DAP to state their stands on the issue. And PKR and DAP have, time and again, said they are opposed to the issue. And, to demonstrate this, two days ago they got PAS to agree to an agreement that any and all policy matters must be based on consensus. All three partners within Pakatan Rakyat must unanimously agree to any policy matters. A simple majority is not enough. It must be either all or nothing.

The ball is now at Umno’s feet. Umno claims to be the largest Islamic party in the world. This is what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad declared when he was the Prime Minister of Malaysia. And it is Umno that keeps raising the issue of the Islamic State and Hudud. Khairy Jamaluddin, the Prime Minister’s son-in-law, has been going around Kuala Terengganu proudly claiming that it was he who very cleverly trapped Husam Musa into making his slip-of-the-lips in the debate they engaged in.Pakatan Rakyat has laid the matter to rest. The issue is no longer an issue. It is now a non-issue. So what is Umno’s stand on the Islamic State and Islamic laws? That is what the voters, in particular the non-Malay voters, would like to know. Is Umno ferociously opposed to the Islamic State and Hudud? Or does it not dare state its stand, one way or the other?Umno does not dare state its stand.

Umno would rather say: "I don't think it's an issue." But, to many, they do think it is an issue. The temples being demolished are in Umno-run states. The churches being denied permission to be set up are in Umno-run states. The Malay language Bible is being denied permission the use of the word ‘Allah’ by the Umno-led federal government. Those being detained by the religious authorities for ‘immoral conduct’ are in Umno-run states and they are being detained by federal agencies.Where is PAS’s hand in all these? All we see is the hand of Umno. PAS is said to be an extremist party. But it is the Umno-run states and the Umno-led federal government that appears to be doing all these extremist acts, in the name of Islam. PAS, on the other hand, approves churches and temples in the states it runs -- while the many years the state was under Umno control the non-Muslims failed to get permission.

There is currently an ongoing court case in Sabah. Chong Kah Kiat, the 13th Chief Minister of Sabah, the former president of the Liberal Democratic Party (a member of Barisan Nasional), is taking the Umno state government to court for not allowing a Buddhist statue to be built in the state. Chong, who was the Deputy Chief Minister, also resigned his post in protest. It is not PAS but Umno that is blocking the Ma Tzu or Goddess of The Sea statue in Kudat, Sabah.

Stop asking PAS, DAP or PKR their stands. Their stands are clear. Their stands are: no changes without consensus. And all changes must be according to the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and not in violation of it. And that goes for the internal Security Act as well. PAS, DAP or PKR are opposed to the Internal Security Act.

When asked about his stand on the Internal Security Act, this was what Wan Farid replied: “In government, we cannot have individual [positions] on policies.”When asked whether the Internal Security Act should at least be reviewed, Wan Farid replied: “My stand is parallel with the government's. It is good as it is.” Read his lips, very slowly. He does not have an individual opinion. His stand is parallel with the government. The ISA is good and will remain. The fact that the ISA is unconstitutional does not matter. Umno is prepared to violate the Constitution. PAS said it would not do anything that goes against the Constitution. Wan Farid says the Constitution does not matter.

The Constitution says no one can be detained without being told of his/her crime and must be produced in front of a magistrate within 24 hours. The Internal Security Act allows one to be detained without being told of his/her crime and they can be held without being brought in front of a magistrate for the rest of his/her life.

According to the Constitution, a person is innocent until proven guilty. And the onus is on the Prosecution to prove guilt. The Accused needs not prove innocence. All he or she has to do is to raise reasonable doubt and the benefit of the doubt must be given to the Accused. Under the Internal Security Act, the government needs not prove guilt and the Accused has to instead justify that his or her detention is invalid. But the detained person will not be allowed a trial. Instead, a panel will hear the arguments of the Accused in secret, behind closed doors. And, in all cases, the panel will reject the arguments of the Accused.

And that is why PAS opposes the ISA, because it violates the Constitution. PAS respects the Constitution. And PAS respects the Constitution not only with regards to the right of an accused to a fair and open trial but also with regards to converting Malaysia into an Islamic State and the implementation of Islamic laws. Umno, however, according to Wan Farid, says: “In government, we cannot have individual [positions] on policies.” So, whom can we trust? A party that respects and will comply to the Federal Constitution of Malaysia or one that violates the Constitution every step of the way? That is the fundamental issue in the Kuala Terengganu by-election. PAS has spoken. Umno too has spoken.

And both voices are loud and clear. The issue is not just about the Internal Security Act or Hudud. It is about laws that are implemented which do not violate the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. Umno does not care about the Constitution. PAS does. So who makes a better government?

You, the voters of Kuala Terengganu, can decide this on Saturday, 17 January 2009. And you need not be a rocket scientist to figure out which of the two makes a better government.

No comments: