KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Umno’s new relationship with PAS is based on the crystallisation of Islamic principles and not a political alliance, said Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The Umno acting deputy president defined the relationship between Umno-PAS as Tapayuh (crystallisation) and not Tahaluf (collaboration) as misunderstood by many.
“What they (PAS) have discussed with us is to address a few Islamic principle issues in the legal system — we need to work together on it not only with PAS but with other parties, Muslim and non-Muslims groups,” he said in an exclusive interview with Malay Mail yesterday.
The deputy prime minister said both Muslim and non-Muslims need to understand the matter well to avoid any misinterpretation.
“For Muslims because they need to embrace Islamic principles and the legal system, while for the non-Muslim — we need them to understand the crux of the matter and it is not taking sides of any ethnic group or religion,” he said.
When asked if this was not a move to connect with PAS, Ahmad Zahid said: “No. There have been efforts before but they were so hurt and they are no longer with Barisan Nasional (BN).
“They are more careful with BN now. We don’t expect them to be in the coalition with BN but I think understanding the issues is currently more important.”
The Bagan Datok MP said the matter must be understood well by their leadership and members.
“I think not all their members understand the crystallisation process; some are of the impression that it is a collaboration. They have to do their part, as well as on our side we need to explain to our leadership and members, especially at the grassroots level,” he said.
On Nov 24, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang tabled a motion in the Dewan Rakyat on his amended Private Member’s Bill to increase Shariah courts’ sentencing powers by at least ten-fold, but again deferred its discussion to the next Parliament session.
Hadi has now postponed its tabling twice.
He was only able to do so at the last meeting following the intercession of an Umno minister.
The help Umno extended to Hadi over the Bill, including a special briefing by Ahmad Zahid this week, had fuelled speculation that the Islamist party and its traditional rival were forming a partnership.
The updated version sought to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, to allow the increase of the Islamic courts’ punishment ceiling to 30 years’ in prison, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane.
It was previously to allow Shariah courts to mete out any punishment short of the death penalty.