Old hostilities renewed in latest Umno-PAS slugfest

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 10 Jul 2005


THEY say two do not make a pair. And that is clearly the case with Umno and PAS which can barely see eye-to-eye. 

Kemaman MP Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s debate last Wednesday brought to the surface old hostilities between the two nemeses. 

When he brought up the latest controversy in Terengganu where PAS accused the state government of demolishing a mosque, the debate led to a host of issues ranging from the definition of a mosque to the days of yore when the wives of PAS leaders did not wear the tudung

According to Ahmad Shabery, 47, the “mosque” was actually a shell of a building in tiny Kg Bujal where only 20 people live..  

“No one ever performed their Friday prayers there but PAS made an issue out of this, saying that the Barisan Nasional government in Terengganu has destroyed a mosque,” he said. 

This led to Ismail Noh (PAS-Pasir Mas) asking for a definition of mosques, saying: “There are mosques in Kuala Lumpur where Friday prayers are not held. It is not necessary to have Friday prayers for a building to be called a mosque.” 

In drawing a comparison between Umno and PAS, Ahmad Shabery said the present Umno state government planned to build 212 mosques in Terengganu within the next four years. 

“These are either new mosques or replacements for the older ones. In my area Kemaman, PAS did not build a single mosque there throughout their five-year rule,” said Ahmad Shabery, an academician who still lectures occasionally at local universities. 

The youthful-looking Ahmad Shabery, from most accounts, is an MP of substance and one of the more intelligent and interesting faces from Terengganu although his political past is somewhat tainted by his Semangat 46 days. 

So while he held court for two hours during the debate on the Syariah Court Evidence (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill, Abdul Fatah Harun (PAS-Rantau Panjang) poked fun at him: 

“His attitude is common in people who have just joined Umno. They have to be more ‘Umno’ than the rest.” 

MPs from both sides made claims on how past attempts for a dialogue between the two parties had been rebuffed by the rival party.  

It was, however, a calm debate with none of the emotions and acrimony that usually accompanied such battles between the archenemies. 

In fact, it was quite amusing when Ismail said he was pained by Ahmad Shabery’s ceaseless attacks. 

“It is not so pleasant when the vanquished is continuously being stabbed at (referring to PAS’ losses in the general election). When someone has already been defeated, stop hitting him. 

“It is not fair for you to hit out at PAS leaders who are not here in the Dewan to defend themselves.” 

He made the remark after Ahmad Shabery spoke of how PAS never used to talk about hudud laws in the 1960s and 70s, and how it once accused Umno of being an infidel for befriending MCA and MIC. 

“I remember then that the wives of PAS leaders did not wear the tudung, only selendang (shawl). During the time of Datuk Asri Muda (a former PAS president), he would just wear batik. No one was being addressed as Tok Guru.” 

Speaking to Ismail, he said: “I am sorry if you are hurt. But then, Kg Bujal is in my constituency. When PAS went around putting up posters and banners saying that we have brought down a mosque; likening us to the Jews and that the demolishment is akin to what happened to the Babri mosque, then it is I who is hurt.” 

(The destruction of the Babri mosque by Hindu mobs in India took place in 1992). 

While the debate was engaging to most of the MPs present, others felt that it had gone off tangent. 

“This has become a stage for two parties to slug it out. Let’s not waste time quarrelling here,” said DAP MP Lim Hock Seng. 

Still it was another interesting chapter in the Umno-PAS rivalry. 

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