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Friday, September 30, 2011

How spin-doctoring works

Malay support, which was about 49% in the March 2008 general election, has declined to about 40% over the last three years. Pakatan Rakyat would need to increase this support to at least 60% if it wants to be able to win enough seats in parliament to form the next federal government.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Pakatan stalemate after talks on hudud (The Star). Pakatan: Hudud only if all parties agree (The Malaysian Insider). Pakatan: No consensus for Kelantan to implement hudud (Malaysiakini). DAP won’t back down on hudud, says Karpal (Free Malaysia Today). Hudud: PR agrees to disagree, maintains unity (Harakah Daily). Hudud backfires on BN, while a smiling Nik Aziz reaches out to non-Muslims (Malaysia Chronicle). Anwar: Pakatan will not implement Hudud Laws(Malaysian Digest).

That was what seven different news agencies/portals reported today. Now, all seven were reporting about the same event. But just from the headlines alone you can see the different slants in those reports. And if you would like to read the body of those reports you can do so below (where again their focus or emphasis is different).

Anwar Ibrahim said in his Blog: “Hudud: Pakatan sepakat akui Enakmen Syariah Kelantan, Terengganu”. Lim Kit Siang, however, said: “Pakatan: Hudud only if all parties agree”. Again, the slant between Anwar and Kit Siang is slightly different. Anwar says that Pakatan is ‘unanimous and agrees’. Kit Siang says that they are not unanimous and do not agree (Hudud only if all parties agree).

So that makes nine different versions of the same event. Why not make it ten and the tenth version will be from me. And my ‘headline’ is going to be: ‘Pakatan’s move to regain lost Malay ground’.

Well, that is my version of that same event and certainly it differs from the other nine versions. But I am entitled to my opinion of what transpired just like all the others are entitled to their opinion and interpretation of events as well.

As we always say: you can’t change the facts of history. But you can certainly interpret events according to the way you see them. For example, my interpretation of my TV3 interview earlier this year is that I reinforced or reiterated what I signed in my Statutory Declaration of June 2008. Others have interpreted it as me having done a U-turn or back-paddled on what I signed in that SD. Can you see how that same event was interpreted differently by different people?

Anyway, my headline is: ‘Pakatan’s move to regain lost Malay ground’. And against the backdrop of this headline, how would the body of my report read and how different would it be to the others below?

Well, this is how the body of my report will read:

Pakatan Rakyat, realising that the road to Putrajaya lies in the hands of the Malay electorate, is making its move to regain what is apparently declining Malay support by raising the issue of the Shariah law of Hudud.

Pakatan Rakyat can see that it has already maximised Chinese and Indian support. However, without more Malay support, it is never going to be able to form the next federal government.

Malay support, which was about 49% in the March 2008 general election, has declined to about 40% over the last three years. Pakatan Rakyat would need to increase this support to at least 60% if it wants to be able to win enough seats in parliament to form the next federal government.

Pakatan Rakyat realises that even if it manages to win 90% Chinese and Indian support that would not be good enough if Malay support hovers at around only 40%. Pakatan Rakyat can afford to see Chinese and Indian support reduce to 80%, or even 75%. But as long as Malay support can increase to 60% then it can win the next general election even with a reduced Chinese and Indian support.

More than half the seats in parliament are ‘Malay’ seats. This means the Malay votes are more crucial than non-Malay votes. With non-Malay votes above 60%, say 75-80%, then Pakatan Rakyat can still make it. But it can only make it if the Malay support is 60% or so.

This appears to be a brilliant move as far as West Malaysia is concerned where 165 of the 222 parliament seats are located. That does not, however, solve the problem of the 57 parliament seats in East Malaysia.

In East Malaysia, there are no ‘Malay’ seats as such. So, while this strategy may be brilliant when it comes to West Malaysia (where Pakatan Rakyat could probably win up to 85 of the 165 parliament seats), it is not clear how this would help in East Malaysia (where Pakatan Rakyat would need to win at least 30 parliament seats if it wants to form the next federal government).

Pakatan Rakyat does not seem to have got its act together in East Malaysia. Will this Hudud issue actually work for or against Pakatan Rakyat in East Malaysia or will it have no impact at all? This is not known just yet.

Nevertheless, Pakatan Rakyat will need to come out with a different and much stronger strategy for East Malaysia. If not, then Pakatan Rakyat will win not more than ten seats there, which means Barisan Nasional will be back in power with at least 127 seats in parliament.

Clearly, the Hudud issue is aimed at the voters in the Malay heartland. Now PAS can go down to the voters to say that it honestly and sincerely tried its best to implement Hudud, in particular in Kelantan and Terengganu. However, Umno, the lead partner in the ruling government, is the one blocking the implementation of Hudud. And yet Umno claims that it is the largest Islamic party in the world.

The failure to see Hudud implemented in Malaysia will clearly rest on Umno’s shoulders. Umno will be seen as what the Chinese would say the chao lang (arehole, bastard: take your pick) in this whole matter. You can't blame DAP for opposing Hudud, PAS will argue. After all, DAP is not an Islamic party. But what excuse does Umno have for opposing Hudud?

The question now would be: what will the affect be to the Chinese or Indian voters? Of course, Pakatan Rakyat might see a slight decline in non-Malay support (but then again it might not or the decline will be very minimal). But if this slight decline can be offset by an even larger increase in Malays votes, then Pakatam Rakyat would be taking one step backwards but two steps forwards. That means, with the plusses and minuses added together, Pakatan Rakyat would be still ahead with some plusses.

Pakatan Rakyat’s shot at Putrajaya will of course depend on what happens in East Malaysia. And the Hudud issue may not have any bearing at all on what happens there. So how is Pakatan Rakyat going to ensure that it wins at least 30 seats from East Malaysia?

That is not an issue for discussion today and is not related to the subject matter: Hudud as Pakatan’s move to regain lost Malay ground.

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1. Pakatan stalemate after talks on hudud

(The Star) -- Pakatan Rakyat has failed to reach a consensus on hudud despite a three-hour meeting.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said they respected the Syariah criminal enactment drawn in 1993 in Kelantan and in 2003 in Terengganu before Pakatan was formed.

“We have agreed to respect the differences of opinions in line with democratic principles,” he said after the Pakatan leadership meeting here last night.

Among those present were PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, DAP chairman Karpal Singh, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang.

Asked if Pakatan agreed to the implementation of hudud laws in Kelantan and Terengganu, Anwar said they would refer to their common policy framework.

Anwar said Pakatan leaders had agreed to abide by the Federal Constitution and the Buku Jingga.

“Hudud laws cannot be implemented without amending the Federal Constitution,” he said.

“And DAP's objection must also be respected,” he added.

The issue erupted after PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said that the party hoped to implement hudud laws in Kelantan.

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2. Pakatan: Hudud only if all parties agree

(The Malaysian Insider) -- Pakatan Rakyat (PR) agreed today that the contentious hudud or Islamic criminal law is not part of its joint policy until all parties agree to it, stepping back from the brink of a major difference that broke an earlier opposition coalition.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told a press conference just after midnight that the set of Islamic laws was “certainly now not PR policy and DAP’s objection has to be respected.”

“Yes, very clear, it has to be together,” the PKR de facto leader replied to a question on whether any move to implement hudud would need the unanimous agreement of all three parties in the pact.

He had earlier backed imposing the law in Kelantan, just like political foe Umno whose former leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dredged up the issue last week.

Close to 30 top PR leaders had met for over three hours last night to resolve the longstanding hudud issue which has seen the DAP and PAS repeatedly at loggerheads.

Dr Mahathir, who opposed hudud when Kelantan passed the law in 1993, dared Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the state’s mentri besar, to implement hudud now that the country’s longest-serving prime minister was no longer in power.

The PAS spiritual leader then called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to propose amendments to the federal constitution to allow the Islamic law, which prescribes stoning, whipping and amputation as punishment for criminal offences.

But the DAP has insisted that it is not part of PR’s common policy, leading to the three-year-old pact’s unity being questioned.

Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng vowed this week that his entire central leadership would resign their posts if hudud became part of the coalition’s joint stand.

PR issued a gag order earlier this week, barring their members from speaking on the issue until the pact’s emergency meeting last night.

Anwar also said PR will continue to allow its members to air different views but that no policy would become part of its common platform without the consensus of all.

“Why must PAS be denied the right to articulate their views? We cannot deny the right of any party to bring forward any view. PR respects PAS’s initiative and aspiration but we have to reach a consensus,” the former deputy prime minister said.

He added that he could not understand “why (hudud) cannot be discussed? Why the strong abhorrence?”

The Permatang Pauh MP also said that the hudud enactments that were passed in PAS-ruled Kelantan and Terengganu in 1993 and 2003 respectively were done before PR had been formed.

Anwar said that “both enactments are there, but it requires PR consensus and an amendment to the constitution. DAP is not supportive of that particular position.”

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3. Pakatan: No consensus for Kelantan to implement hudud

(Malaysiakini) -- Pakatan Rakyat today said that it will uphold the Federal Constitution in so far as the hudud law is concerned, implying that it will not seek the constitutional amendments required for the law to be implemented.

However, the coalition agreed to disagree on existing enactments pertaining to hudud law in Kelantan and Terengganu, as the enactments predate the formation of Pakatan.

Speaking after a three-hour meeting which ended at midnight at the PAS headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said this was to respect the divergent views of PAS and DAP on the thorny issue.

“Both enactments are already there as references, but there is a need to refer to Pakatan Rakyat as it involves Federal Constitution amendment.

“The (Kelantan) government is here, (state exco) Takiyuddin (Hassan) explained the Kelantan position and the requirement for (the state enactment's) enforcement is an amendment to the Federal Constitution,” he said.

Asked specifically if Pakatan will be implementing the hudud law if it comes into power in the next election, Anwar said: “No, there is no consensus (on that).”

However, the veteran politician noted that Pakatan is not closing the door on hudud and is prepared to pursue the matter to respect PAS' democratic right to voice their position.

“We cannot deny PAS, DAP or PKR the right to (present their case)... but we are bound to the Federal Constitution and the Buku Jingga.

“There is nothing stopping us from discussing the issue. Why can this not be discussed?” he asked when quizzed by reporters.

Of the 26 who attended the meeting, said to have been fairly heated, were DAP leaders Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang, Ngeh Koo Ham and Liew Chin Tong, PAS leaders Abdul Hadi Awang, Salahuddin Ayub and Nasruddin Hassan and PKR leaders Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, Azmin Ali and Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin.

Takiyuddin was representing the Kelantan government on the instruction of state menteri besar and PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

Pakatan leaders tightlipped

According to Anwar, Pakatan leaders including himself also contacted Nik Aziz, a staunch supporter of the hudud law, on the matter.

He added that the meeting was also briefed of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment 1993 and Terengganu Syariah Criminal Code 2003 by Takiyuddin and Abdul Hadi.

Pakatan leaders approached after the meeting were all tightlipped and refused to divulge information of what had happened in the lengthy meeting.

The hudud issue has been used by Pakatan's opponents to accuse the coalition of being a marriage of convenience rather than a formidable pact.

Often used as ammunition against Pakatan on the matter is the statement by Karpal that the Islamic laws will only be implemented comprehensively in Malaysia “over (his) dead body”.

“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 wisdom of the rakyat to judge this situation for themselves,” said Anwar.

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4. DAP won’t back down on hudud, says Karpal

(Free Malaysia Today) -- DAP chairman Karpal Singh said the party will continue to oppose any attempts at implementing hudud in the country.

“From the very beginning, DAP has also made known its opposition against any attempts by PAS and others to turn the country into an Islamic state,” he said.

“Let me make it very clear: hudud is not in line with the Federal Cosntitution and therefore it is unconstitutional,” Karpal told FMT when commenting on the outcome of last night’s meeting of Pakatan Rakyat’s top brass to discuss the hudud issue.

He said even though PAS leaders were adamant (about implementing Islamic laws), DAP was equally firm in its opposition.

“You can’t have Islamic laws in a secular state; it’s as simple as that,” said Karpal, who was also at the meeting at the PAS headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut here.

He pointed out that the Supreme Court led by the then Lord President Mohamed Salleh Abas had declared that the country was a secular state in a landmark decision on a case in 1988.

He reiterated that there will be “no change” in his party’s stand on the matter, adding that he had conveyed this decision to PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim.

When asked to describe the atmosphere at last night’s meeting, Karpal said it was “very cordial”.

On calls by several MCA and Gerakan leaders to DAP to make its stand clear over the (hudud) issue, Karpal hit out at both parties, calling them “hypocrites”.

“Where were they when Mahathir (former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad) declared that Malaysia was an Islamic state?”

“There was not even a whimper of protest from any of the Barisan National (BN) component parties,” he said.

Asked whether he was concerned that the hudud issue will adversely affect relationship among the Pakatan allies, Karpal said that it was normal to have differences.

“But we still share a common stand on several key issues like human rights and corruption.”

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5. Hudud: PR agrees to disagree, maintains unity

(Harakah Daily) -- Pakatan Rakyat yesterday decided to 'agree to disagree’ on matters pertaining to the implementation of the Islamic deterrent punishment for serious crimes, or hudud, saying it respected both PAS and DAP's positions on the matter.

After a three-hour meeting, the coalition issued a joint statement to respect the hudud enactments by PAS governments in Kelantan and Terengganu which predate the coalition.

“The meeting acknowledges and respects the differences among parties in Pakatan Rakyat as a democratic alliance, including PAS’s position on the implementation of the Shariah law.

"The meeting also acknowledges the Kelantan’s Shariah Criminal Enactment 1993 and Terengganu’s Shariah Enactment in 2003 which existed before Pakatan Rakyat was born. PKR and PAS respect the different stand taken by DAP in this matter,” said the statement.

Speaking to the press later, parliamentary Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said the implementation of hudud would require amendment to the Federal Constitution.

“The (Kelantan) government is here, (state exco) Takiyuddin (Hassan) explained the Kelantan position and the requirement for (the state enactment's) enforcement is an amendment to the Federal Constitution,” he said.

On whether PR would implement hudud if it wrests power at the Federal level, Anwar said there was no such consensus.

“We will not be dragged into the desperate politics of UMNO-BN to create a wedge between us," he said.

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6. Hudud backfires on BN, while a smiling Nik Aziz reaches out to non-Muslims

(Malaysia Chronicle) -- With the dust settling on the hudud law issue, PAS' revered Spritiual Adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat has reason to smile. He and his party have won a major concession from coalition partner, the DAP.

PAS' aspiration to implement hudud in Kelantan and Terengganu has been acknowledged by its partners DAP and PKR. Both states have already passed hudud into law at their respective state assemblies and whai is now stopping the implementation is the Umno-led federal government's refusal to give the go-ahead.

But the 80-year old Nik Aziz, who is also Kelantan Mentri Besar, is no fool. He is also a gentleman and would never think of forcing hudud on the state just to satisfy his own and PAS' staunch Islamic convictions. Already, he has begun to reach out to the non-Muslims to further calm their fears over hudud, which is feared because of the types of punishment it prescribes which include amputation of limbs, whipping and stoning to death.

"My non-Muslim friends, can I know which part of the punishment is frightening to you," Nik Aziz wrote on his Facebook page hours after the Pakatan decision was announced.

"I hope you are not afraid of hudud due to misunderstanding or misinformation because that could only be the reason for your fear, because of false perceptions or because you do not know or are not sure. And I would like to understand your concern more clearly and to this end, I have prepare many answers to help you overcome your worries."

BN now on the defensive

The Pakatan decision and the open manner in which the three parties - DAP, PAS and PKR - handled the contentious issue has put political rivals Umno and BN on the defensive.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is Umno president, is left looking rather lacking and not just to the Muslims but also to the non-Muslims. In the past week, since the issue was stirred up by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, there has been a groundswell of Muslim support towards PAS and Nik Aziz.

Although there are many Malays who are against hudud and believe it is an archaic law, they still leaned towards PAS in appreciation of its willingness to struggle for Islam. They see in Najib's slick disavowal of hudud as a mere political decision, aimed at making himself popular rather than try to find a way forward from the highly sensitive and contentious issue.

"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,” Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim had said.

Displeasure with Najib grows in Umno

While BN has been quick to draw attention to the Pakatan's disgareement over the issue, Umno itself was split over hudud while MCA and Gerakan were strongly against it.

Najib's over eagerness to brush off hudud contrasts sharply against his deputy's view that Umno supported hudud but could not implement it immediately. The PM's political faux pas has earned him the wrath of the hardliners in Umno and the anger of the staunchly Muslim.

The return goodwill from the non-Muslims, especially the Chinese, was negligible with many seeing through his ploy to gain their votes along with MCA and Gerakan.

"The insincerity is glaring. Certainly, it will worsen the relations between the Najib and Muhyiddin camp. Within Umno, the calls to get Najib to step down has grown because of the hudud. He doesn't seem to be able to feel the pulse of his own people," Bukit Gantang MP Nizar Jamaluddin told Malaysia Chronicle.

Stunning Facebook support

Meanwhile, in a clear testimony that honesty is always appreciated, Nik Aziz's Facebook has chalked stunning support since the issue gained prominence. He now has at least 561,047 followers.

For one particular post he made on the hudud issue, he received 4,356 comments. At least 9,146 readers pressed the ‘like’ button, while 3,054 others pressed the ‘share’ button to post it on their own facebook wall.

The post that drew so much attention reads as follows:

"Oh Utusan Malaysia, the paper which claims to protect the rights of the Malays and Islam. Are you aware of what you’re doing? Where is the limit to practising politics that you ignore but insist on fooling around with what is clearly stated in the Quran?

Oh Muslims…oh Mighty Lord….oh my fellow Mufti…oh Malay/Islamic NGOs…oh my fellow scholars and young scholars of Umno…isn’t it obvious that this act is an insult to Islamic law?"

Nik Aziz had penned the post in response to a caricature from the Umno-owned Utusan newspaper.

In his next posting, Nik Aziz explained that he rarely reads the Utusan.

“In my opinion, the newspaper seems more like an Umno mouthpiece. This morning I was shown a cartoon sketch that was published yesterday, insulting the word hudud. I don’t want to comment much, what I said was enough, matches the level of thinking in Utusan Malaysia’s editorial board,” said Nik Aziz.

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7. Anwar: Pakatan will not implement Hudud Laws

(Malaysian Digest) -- Pakatan Rakyat have decided to not implement the hudud law in Kelantan as the implementation of the Islamic law need consensus from all three Pakatan parties.

The decision was announced by Pakatan leaders after a meeting over the issue which started at 9pm and ended about 12:30am.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he respects PAS’ initiatives and aspirations for the implementation of the law, however, DAP is opposed to it.

Despite the decision by the DAP, the other two component parties– PKR and PAS – said they respect the final decision in which a consensus must be reached in order to implement the law.

“Pakatan respects PAS’ and PKR’s support for hudud in Kelantan just as it respects DAP’s opposition to it,” Anwar told a press conference after the meeting at PAS headquarters.

Anwar added that Pakatan acknowledges the ideological differences in each of its component parties – including PAS’ stand on the hudud law – as the coalition is a democratic collaboration.

According to him, the implementation of hudud law would also require amendment to the Federal Constitution.

“Both enactments are already there… but there is a need to refer to Pakatan Rakyat because it involves Federal Constitution amendments,” he added.

The PKR de facto leader said that the decision by Pakatan over the hudud issue defends the mutual policies contained in the Federal Constitution as well as the Buku Jingga (Orange book).

He said, in the meeting, the opposition leaders also addressed the existence of the 1993 Syariah Criminal Enactment II of Kelantan and the 2003 Syariah Criminal Enactment of Terengganu which was created before the existence of the Pakatan coalition.

He added that the Pakatan will continue to strengthen its political will to improve its economic competitiveness, income of the people, quality of education, health and the cost of living which has been getting higher.

He said that, in the meeting, the three component parties also agreed that they will not be dragged into what he claims to be Umno/Barisan Nasional’s “desperate” political games to divide the Pakatan parties.

“We are fully confident of the rakyat’s maturity and wisdom in evaluating this situation,” said Anwar.

According to him, during the meeting, the leaders have also decided concurred that cooperation will be given towards realizing Pakatan’s main political objective in the next general election (GE13) which is to rebuild the national fundamentals which were “ruined by Umno / BN” following the principles of universal justice, good governance, accountability, transparency and competency to achieve “public good” for all rakyat.

He also said that PAS will not be stopped from talking about implementing hudud laws despite not having a consensus on the matter.

“We are not an Umno-controlled Pakatan Rakyat… We respect the right of people to present their case, ask questions and raise the matter… and to deny PAS to articulate their position is not fair,” he added.

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