Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang has made clear in his keynote address to his party's annual congress that he will continue to push for hudud laws even as he gave tepid support for his party's continued membership in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance.
Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi, who retained the party presidency with a convincing win of 928 votes out of 1,161 ballots, said hudud laws - the Islamic criminal code that allows for punishment such as amputation - have to be carried out because the people want a "return to Islam".
"The PAS-led Kelantan state government must work towards this agenda because of the urging of the public who wants to return to Islam, because Islam is the right of all its followers, and the people who want to see it," he told the 1,000-strong party delegates and observers at the Kuala Selangor indoor stadium yesterday.
Mr Abdul Hadi also pointed to the rift between PAS and its partners in PR, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP), saying: "We know our party colleagues are fighting for a secular Constitution, which goes against PAS' policy."
However, he indicated that PAS will remain in the alliance if it is allowed to maintain its Islamic values.
The divide between PAS' conservatives and progressives has become more pronounced, however, with the former strongly opposed to the party continuing to engage with the DAP.
This could be seen on Wednesday, when the ulama wing unanimously approved an emergency motion to sever ties with the DAP, over its attacks on Mr Abdul Hadi, while remaining in the PR.
Mr Abdul Hadi yesterday tried to paper over the divide between the conservatives and the progressives, stressing that the party does not differentiate between religious scholars and professionals.
"The concept of PAS is, there is no separation between religion, politics, economy and lifestyle. The formation of PAS itself involved every group, not just the religious scholars, but also academics. We need those who can deal with the current affairs."
DAP leaders were absent from the party congress despite an invitation sent by PAS.
However, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali was present and later told reporters that opposition leaders must remain fair to the PAS president.
"PR needs to immediately sit down and discuss and see methods as to how the three parties can continue fighting as PR, as stressed by the president (Abdul Hadi) this morning in his speech."
Political analyst Shaharuddin Baharuddin agreed that PKR must act as a mediator between the two parties, stressing that Mr Abdul Hadi is extending an olive branch to the DAP in his keynote speech.
"I think his speech was quite diplomatic because he didn't bombard either PKR and DAP.
"He has stated that he is willing to speak with PR and is trying to reduce the tension between DAP and PAS."
Dr Shaharuddin said the party realises that continued partnership with PR is not only about political co-operation, but also about keeping the balance in the PR-led state governments of Penang and Selangor. PAS leaving PR would weaken these governments.
The DAP declined to comment when contacted by The Straits Times yesterday. "We would like to reserve our comment until after the muktamar (congress)," said its national organising secretary Anthony Loke.
This article was first published on June 5, 2015.
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