KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 — By declaring that his party would introduce the hudud if it wins federal power, Pas vice president Datuk Husam Musa may have unwittingly placed the Islamic state issue on the Kuala Terengganu by-election agenda.
Today, the DAP, the Chinese-dominated secular partner of Pas in the Pakatan Rakyat alliance, quickly disassociated itself from the remarks, which will certainly cause concern among many non-Muslims because such strict Islamic law would introduce whipping, stoning and amputation as punishment for criminal offences.
"Hukum hudud is not Pakatan Rakyat policy and it is for Husam to clarify what he actually said," veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang wrote in his blog today.
"DAP's stand on the secular character of Malaysian nation and state as agreed in the social contract by our forefathers when Merdeka was achieved 51 years ago remains consistent and unchanged," he added.
Husam's hudud remark will give the MCA, a party which had been abandoned by Chinese voters in the March elections, an opening to regain some support from the opposition and possibly win over the small but significant number of Chinese voters in the crucial Kuala Terengganu vote.
MCA Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun told The Malaysian Insider that her party was against hudud, saying that the entire non-Muslim community would "definitely go against it".
She noted that Husam had effectively shot PR's chances in the by-election with his statement and that nothing the DAP said now could lessen the damage.
"The most important thing is what exactly is the policy when they run the government," Chew said, drawing attention to Pas's act in passing hudud law in Terengganu when it ruled the east coast state previously.
"I think people will look for that," she said.
Husam was challenged by Umno Youth chief hopeful Khairy Jamaluddin to disclose Pas's stand in a public debate on "Malaysian Political Reformation" in Kota Baru last Saturday.
The other Umno Youth chief hopeful, Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, was equally dismissive of Husam.
"That is only political rhetoric, trying to be a champion for the Malays without thinking of the nation's multiracial structure," the former Selangor Menteri Besar told The Malaysian Insider.
"Hudud is only a small claim in Islam. Not implementing hudud does not mean we fail to become good Muslims," said Khir.
"For me, it is more important that the effort to become a good Muslim should be done by Umno Youth, by having youths who are responsible, ready to face challenges, willing to uphold justice and who are free from all the bad points of life," he added.