PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is certainly living in a world of political conspiracy, dirty tricks and machination. Now that the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, or RUU355, is being dropped as a BN sponsored bill, he has claimed that there is a mastermind who is blocking it.
However, he has failed to name the mastermind. At the same time, he seems to be totally ignorant as to why the bill is not being tabled by the government in this parliamentary sitting.
Or if he does – which I believe is the case – he wants to continue with the pretence that the public, especially the Malay public, is supporting him in his attempt to further “Islamise” the country according to his own beliefs.
To put the record straight, Hadi needs to be reminded that there are two masterminds that have been involved in the tabling of the bill.
These two masterminds are Hadi himself and Umno president Najib Razak, who against all expectations and despite the opposition of BN component parties, gave the go-ahead for the motion on the bill to be moved up the order in Parliament.
Subsequently, Najib announced to the Umno general assembly last December that the government would take over the tabling of Hadi’s bill.
I believe the move by the prime minister at that time was to get Hadi and PAS to be on his side – or at least not speak out openly – when Najib was facing a barrage of opposition and public criticism on the twin scandals of 1MDB and the huge personal donation in his bank account.
As we can see, Najib’s turnabout strategy on Hadi’s bill was successful. PAS and Hadi have remained blind, deaf and mute on these two issues as well as on BN’s mismanagement of the economy and the growing socio-economic crisis which is making life more difficult for millions of Malaysians.
In engaging in this honeymoon period with Najib, Hadi may have protected Najib and prevented the PM from being toppled – either by outside or internal forces.
Hadi was not only fooled by Najib’s support for the bill, he was also fooled into thinking that PAS and Umno could work together in the coming election and to establish a Malay-Muslim government in which PAS would have a big share of power. This explains why PAS has gone out of its way to try to destroy the Pakatan opposition by running down Amanah and making all kinds of ridiculous claims about Pakatan’s dominance by DAP, etc.
Well, as the saying goes – don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.
It looks like Hadi and PAS have been played out by Najib and Umno.
In his killer announcement on dropping government support for RUU355, Najib stated that the government had decided not to table the private member’s bill to amend RUU355 in line with the principle of consensus.
“Therefore, it will remain a private member’s bill and if it is presented, it will depend on the speaker’s instructions,” Najib had said.
The message that Najib is sending out to PAS is that the prime minister and Umno no longer need PAS’ support now that the danger of the twin scandals bringing down the government has passed.
They are also sending out the message that they think they can win the coming election without the need to have Hadi and PAS work with them. More important for Umno to continue its dominance on power are Sabah and Sarawak voters and the other BN coalition partners. Clearly, they see the need for support from the East Malaysian voters more than from PAS and its limited Kelantan/Terengganu voter base.
So to answer Hadi’s question: Was Najib the mastermind in the pulling back of Barisan support for RUU355?
The answer is yes but this is only a partial answer. PM Najib may have been the person who pulled the trigger but there was no single mastermind behind this action that Najib was forced to take.
There were, in fact, hundreds of “masterminds”, if the opposition to RUU355 can be called that. This opposition to a thinly disguised politically opportunistic and socially regressive bill comes not from one mastermind, but from politicians from both sides of the political divide, analysts, media columnists, lawyers, progressive NGOs and ordinary citizens.
We who have been speaking out against RUU355 need to congratulate ourselves on this victory. We also need to have faith that if we stand up for our rights and fight for a fair, just, secular and liberal society, we can make a difference.
Koon Yew Yin is a retired chartered civil engineer and one of the founders of IJM Corporation Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.