False choice to believe that PAS depends on hudud issue to stay in power in Kelantan in 14GE to win the seventh election since 1990 when Pakatan Rakyat common programme on good governance and justice can ensure PR victory in Putrajaya and Kelantan

The announcement by the Kelantan PAS Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob of a special Kelantan State Assembly on Dec. 29 to amend the Syariah Criminal Code Enactment II 1993 as a prelude to the tabling of a private member’s bill in Parliament to seek approval for Kelantan to enforce hudud has caught PKR and DAP leaders, as well as the Pakatan Rakyat Leadership Council, by complete surprise as there had been no prior hint or information whatsoever.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has confirmed with me that he is in the dark about the Kelantan PAS government’s plan to hold a special state assembly sitting on the implementation of hudud.

This is a breach of the Pakatan Rakyat consensus that any new measures on hudud will first be discussed in the PR Leadership Council, while taking note and respecting the previous PAS Kelantan decisions on hudud before the formation of PR.

This is not the way to restore public confidence in Pakatan Rakyat which had been seriously shaken by recent developments, or to take full advantage of the latest political landscape where a former top civil servant, who had led the Election Commission for a quarter of a century, either as Election Commission Secretary or Chairman, has passed the judgement that UMNO and Barisan Nasional are in their “death throes”.

Even the Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy UMNO President, Tan Sri Muhhyiddin Yassin knows that the ruling coalition for 57 years is in dire straits when he recently admitted that UMNO/Barisan Nasional would be ousted from power if the ruling coalition loses just two per cent of voter support in the next general elections.

For the first time in the nation’s history, UMNO/BN is poised of being toppled from power, not only in Putrajaya at the federal level, but also in the various states.

A shift of two per cent voter support would oust UMNO/BN from Putrajaya, but it needs only a shift of one per cent voter support to oust UMNO/BN from Perak state government.

If there is a shift of 10% voter support, UMNO/BN would be ousted from power in all the states in Peninsular Malaysia. The margin of shift of voter support needed to oust UMNO/BN from the various state governments are:

Perak – -1%
Terengganu – -2%
Kedah – -3%
Negri Sembilan – -5%
Johor – -6%
Perlis – -7%
Pahang – -9%
Melaka – -10%

This is a political scenario which is completely unthinkable a decade ago.

But there is one caveat. The voter swing against UMNO/BN in Kelantan is among the smallest in the country.

As a result there are those who advocate that PAS should play safe, that PAS needs to be practical, realistic and mindful of the proverb that “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush”, except that there is already a bird in hand – the Kelantan State Government since 1990. What is at stake are not just “two birds in the bush”, as we are talking about capturing federal power in Putrajaya as well as a few state governments as well.

It is a false choice to believe that PAS is in danger of losing power in Kelantan and that its salvation to stay in power in Kelantan in 14GE to win the seventh election since 1990 lies in the hudud issue.

The Pakatan Rakyat common programme on good governance and justice (for individuals, groups, races and states) can ensure PR victory in Putrajaya and Kelantan State as well.

In fact, hudud can be the cause for Pakatan Rakat not only losing the battle for Putrajaya, but also in losing Kelantan – as well as wiping out all the gains that PAS had made outside its traditional stronghold states, like Johore, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Selangor , Perak and Penang.

There has been much talk in PAS circles about the implementation of hudud.

The majority of Malaysians have indicated in surveys that the country is not ready for hudud.

If hudud had been a hot controversial issue in the 13th General Elections on May 5, 2013, the Barisan Nasional would not only have regained its two-thirds parliamentary majority to redelineate electoral constituencies at will, Pakatan Rakyat might have lost Selangor apart from Kedah and Johore would have reverted as an invincible Barisan Nasional “fixed-deposit” state.

The hudud issue has never been and will never be a vote winner for PAS based on past electoral evidence.

PAS and PKR won all 8 parliamentary seats and 28 out of 32 state seats in Terengganu in the 10th General Elections because of the backlash against UMNO arising from Anwar’s arrest and the Reformasi movement.

But despite passing the state hudud enactment in 2001, PAS and PKR only managed to retain 1 out of 8 parliament seats and 4 out of 28 state seats in the 2004 GE/GE11.

Furthermore, PAS and PKR won 4 out of 8 parliament and 15 out of 32 state seats in GE13 in Terengganu without campaigning explicitly to implement hudud in the state.

In fact, according to the ‘5 Janji Awal Manifesto PAS Terengganu’ and ‘5 Lagi Manifesto PRU13’ for GE13, the issue of hudud was not even mentioned. The failure to mention hudud in the state manifesto did not cause PAS to lose any ground in Terengganu.

What is most noteworthy is that even though PAS Terengganu included the implementation of the hudud enactment in the Barisan Alternatif Terengganu Manifesto prior to the 2008 GE, this did not win PAS and PKR many more votes and seats in the state.

PAS still won only one parliament seat and only managed to increase the number of state seats from 4 to 8 in GE2008. While BN’s support fell by 11% nationwide from 2004 to 2008, BN’s support in Terengganu only fell by 0.5%.

This is a clear indication that voters in Terengganu placed more importance on other issues rather than the implementation of hudud.

If hudud had been a controversial issue in the 13GE in May last year, there would be negligible increase of Malay support but a critical decrease of non-Malay support for PR and the three component parties ranging between 10% to 20%.

We can look at three scenarios.

Under Scenario 1 where PR experiences a 10% decrease in non-Malay support versus a 1% increase in Malay support, PR would only have won 70 parliamentary seats or 32% of total seats compared to the 89 parliament seats or 40% of seats actually won.

Under Scenario 2, where the non-Malay support for PR decreases by 15%, PR would only have won 57 parliamentary seats or 26% and under Scenario 3, where the non-Malay support for PR decreases by 20%, PR would only have won 46 seats or 21%.

In all of these three scenarios, PR would have lost out as a whole as Barisan Nasional would have regained two-thirds parliamentary majority to enable it to redelineate electoral constituencies at will to perpetuate its undemocratic hold on political power.

If we extrapolate such results to the various states in Peninsular Malayswia, with non- Malay voter support slashed by 20 per cent, PR in Kedah would be reduced to 6 State Assembly seats (PAS 5, PKR 1); Penang reduced to 25 instead of the present 30 seats (but still in power) with DAP 17, PKR 7 and PAS 1; lost Selangor with PR totalling 21 seats (DAP 11, PKR 5, PAS 5); Johor reverted as UMNO/BN fortress, only winning 4 seats, all from DAP; in Perak, PR reduced to 17 seats (DAP 14, PKR 2 and PAS 1); Pahang, the PR’s present 12 out of 42 state seats reduced to 4 (DAP 2, PAS 2); in Negri Sembilan, the present 14 PR state seats reduced to 6, all from DAP; and in Melaka, the present PR total of 7 seats reduced to 3 DAP seats.

If hudud becomes an issue in the 14GE, PR will not only lose in Putrajaya, there is also a possibility that PAS will lose in Kelantan.

These scenarios and possibilities deserve the attention not only of PAS leaders, but also of DAP and PKR leaders and the 53 per cent of the national electorate who voted for PR in the 13th general elections.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah