Despite the massive floods in the east coast states, the PAS-led Kelantan government has decided to go ahead with its move to table the amendments to the Syariah Criminal Code 1993, or hudud law, in the state assembly on Monday.
It is a law that PAS first passed in 1993, but because federal agencies had refused to enforce it, it fell into limbo.
The tabling of the amendments to “tighten” the hudud law will be followed by a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament which, if passed, will enable federal agencies like the police and the courts to enforce hudud law in Kelantan.
The move has set off alarm bells in Pakatan Rakyat, but it brings PAS one step closer to its cherished dream of implementing hudud in Kelantan.
However, DAP is threatening to end all collaboration with PAS if the party proceeds with the hudud Bill.
The PAS move has also caused anxiety in PKR, but its leaders will only say publicly that hudud is not part of the Pakatan’s common policy framework that the three parties had agreed to before the 2013 general election.
The fact is PAS is an Islamist party and implementing hudud is part of its DNA.
DAP is finding it extremely difficult to accommodate PAS on this matter.
DAP had promised voters that it would be able to “tame” PAS and there was no danger in non-Malays voting for PAS.
PAS, too, reciprocated with the DAP’s promise.
But now DAP is learning it the hard way that such political promises were not written in stone.
PAS has shifted its position – starting with the Selangor Mentri Besar crisis in August when it refused to back a Pakatan-anointed mentri besar, and now more openly, over the tabling of the hudud law.
It is inevitable that an Islamist party would gravitate towards a religious solution for all of society’s ills.
PAS hopes to use its own 21 MPs in Parliament, together with some 100 or so other Muslim MPs from across the political divide, to garner a simple majority of 112 “ayes” that is needed to pass a Private Member’s Bill.
The PAS move on hudud is also causing great disquiet within its own ranks by pushing the liberals in the party against the wall.
These liberals, often referred to as Anwarinas, are aware that they need non-Muslim voter support to win a general election.
They are now saying that the party’s central committee had only agreed to form a technical committee to study the implementation of hudud with Umno and not introduce a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament.
Will they support the Bill when it is tabled in Parliament?
Like a fox in a chicken coop, hudud is beginning to unravel many political relationships within Pakatan.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang couldn’t have said it more clearly that the persistence of PAS with hudud has reached “a point of no return” for Pakatan itself.
“There is no way that Pakatan can survive in its present form after one of its component parties act in such a unilateral and arbitrary manner and showing utter contempt for the other Pakatan parties,” Lim said in a statement.
What the hudud Bill in Kelantan does is to rupture the flimsy co-operation that had always existed between the dissimilar parties of PAS and DAP.
If a significant number of Muslim MPs from both sides give their support to the Private Member’s Bill, the situation will probably force DAP’s hand.
A parting of ways would have ended one of the most unlikely experiments in political expediency that was put together by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
If the Bill on hudud is passed in Parliament, its implications would be enormous.
It is a political decision that is irreversible and it would open the floodgates for other states to follow suit.
It will have an impact, not only on our multi-racial society, but also on our national institutions, including our legal structure, and along with it, all the secular legal systems.
More seriously, its impact on national development is incalculable as it would alter the very foundations of our society.
It would be anybody’s worst nightmare come true.