[If the report below is true, then this is true democracy. Despite very strong believes in opposite directions, these people can trash it out, work together and co-exist, then there is hope for this country afterall. - Hum Yee]
Pakatan reaches consensus after fiery hudud meeting
After a marathon meeting where tables were banged and DAP chairman Karpal Singh was even out-shouted by his own party mates eager to come to grips with a problem that has shaken the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, agreement was finally reached and everyone got most of what they had hoped for.
Firstly, PAS Spiritual Adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat was given the nod to pursue his agenda for hudud law in Kelantan, where in 1993, long before the Pakatan was formed he had passed hudud into law at the state assembly. However, he was stopped from implementing it by ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad.
This is a major concession from DAP and is in recognition of Nik Aziz's contribution to the country and the opposition coalition. The same recognition was extended to Terengganu, where PAS president Hadi Awang had gazetted hudud into law in 2003 but was also unable to implement it.
In return, DAP won the acknowledgement it sought from PAS that the Pakatan's Common Policy Framework (or joint manifesto) and their Buku Jingga (or joint socio-economic blueprint) would remain as they were, without provision for the inclusion of hudud.
This is a major concession from PAS, to agree to uphold the Federal Constitution which does not permit hudud. The much maligned Muslim law pertains to criminal prosecution and this aspect of the law comes under federal jurisdiction.
As such, without the go-ahead at the federal government level, hudud cannot be implemented even though it may have been passed at the state level, such as in Kelantan and Terengganu.
Thirdly, all three Pakatan partners - DAP, PAS and PKR - agreed to reaffirm their support for the CPF and Buku Jingga.
"We are happy with the results," said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, whose PKR party had brokered the agreement.
Asked if Pakatan would amend the federal constitution to include hudud if it won GE-13, PKR vice president Tian Chua said there was nothing to stop PAS from pushing for hudud or even an Islamic state so long as it could achieve a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
But PKR and DAP were not bound to support the motion. Pakatan did not have to vote as a bloc on hudud or an Islamic state as these issues were not agreed on in the CPF and Buku Jingga, Tian stressed.
"There is still a lot of misunderstanding and it boils down to democracy. Each of the parties have their right to their own ideology. They can aspire for what they wish and try to effect it. So for PAS as a party to want hudud, it must get two-thirds majority first," Tian told Malaysia Chronicle.
"But as a coalition, we have firm agreement. PAS has agreed to stand by the Common Policy Framework and Buku Jingga which it also acknowledges does not contain any hudud provisions. This is in line with DAP's and PKR's stand. But DAP and PKR also agreed to allow Nik Aziz to pursue his hudud agenda in Kelantan to the maximum that he can and to accept the same in Terengganu."
Twenty six leaders attended Wednesday night's meetng at the PAS headquarters in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur.
DAP leaders who came included Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang, Tan Seng Giaw, Tony Pua, Anthony Loke, Chen Man Hin and Liew Chin Tong.
PAS was led by Hadi Awang, Mat Sabu, Mustaffa Ali, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, Dzulkefli Ahmad, Nasruddin Tantawi and Takiyuddin Hassan.
PKR leaders who brokered the agreement were Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Azmin Ali, Tian Chua, Saifuddin Nasution, Nurul Izzah, Fuziah Salleh and Shamsul Iskandar.
The meeting began around 8.30 pm and ended at midnight. It was not only a marathon session but an extremely noisy one with Karpal in full bloom. Party workers told Malaysia Chronicle Karpal had insisted that the federal constitution could not be changed and refused to negotiate.
The DAP chairman made so much noise that his own party mate Tan Seng Giaw finally shouted back at him with words to the effect that 'this is not a court of law and if you only look at it from the point of view of the law, then you are only a lawyer and not a politician. A politician must always consider the people and be able to negotiate and find ways to resolve disagreements'.
After that outburst, the temperature went back to normal and despite tough negotitaions, consensus was finally reached. Pakatan now wants to put the issue behind them and focus full attention on the 13th general election, which many pundits expect to be called within the next 60 days.
“We stress that we will not be dragged into the desperate political ploy of Umno-BN to drive a wedge between us. We fully believe in the maturity and wisdon of the rakyat to judge this situation for themselves,” said Anwar.
Criminal law comes under the purview of the federal government
PKR was tasked to broker an agreement between PAS and DAP after a row erupted due to a challenge from Mahathir to Nik Aziz to implement hudud if he was sincere about Islam. Nik Aziz countered by exposing Mahathir's and Umno's role in preventing Muslims from implementing hudud in Kelantan.
The Kelantan Mentri Besar explained that he could not proceed as the Umno-led federal government had issued a letter stopping the implementation.
According to Tian, state governments do not have control over criminal prosecution. "At the state level, governments have say over personal laws like marriage and divorce and so on but in anything criminal, it reverts to federal law," said Tian.
Nik Aziz was not present at the meeting, neither was DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng. Both PAS and DAP had gotten into verbal skirmishes as a result of the row over hudud.
The Islamist PAS had been adamant on pursuing hudud, which remains their aspiration although party leaders have also said said they realize it cannot be implemented yet - not until Malaysian society and this included many Muslims themselves - fully accepted hudud.
As Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad has said, "this can only come about after a long process of education and it will not be easy because for 5 decades, Umno has poisoned the minds of the people against hudud."