I went campaigning in the Kuala Terengganu by-election on the 8th January accompanied by YB Chua Tee Yong, the MP for Labis, some MCA, Wanita and Youth members of the Kuala Terengganu division.
Arriving at 8.30a.m. in Kuala Terengganu airport by Firefly, we went for breakfast. After that, we started work.
We covered about 50 shop houses in the city centre. The response was good and I was pleasantly surprised that most of the voters know me by my full name.
A few requested to take photograph with me while some requested for my signature on the New Year greeting card. Of course I have to oblige to their requests. Facial and name recognition seems to help in the walk about.
After lunch, we met up with the Teochew Association of Kuala Terengganu. The Teochews numbered about 80 families in the Kuala Terengganu town.
Most of them are small time businessman. During the dialogue, nothing very much inspired.
However, during teatime interaction, a lot generally acknowledged that if they support PAS, it is because they are not happy with UMNO and not because they subscribe to PAS’ political agenda.
The fact that BN will not lose control at the federal level if it loses the by-election seems to be working to the advantage of the PAS.
I took the opportunity to talk about how voters should exercise their votes wisely and that it should not be swayed by emotion.
During voting, I said that voters should evaluate:
1) The candidate’s party;
2) The quality of the candidate
The party is important. This may explain why very few independent candidates are successful during election.
In this case, we have an UMNO and BN candidate pitted against PAS and PR party.
After the Teochew Association meeting, we went to a medium 4 storey flat. It was a good exercise covering blocks of 4 storeys flat.
Occupants of the 4 floors were surprised to see me when I knock at the door since they assume that they hardly have anyone knocking at the door when they are living on 4th floor.
During 308 election, people voted for change. We now have 5 PR state government. People have the opportunity to evaluate the performance of the PR government.
The important question is whether PR state has done better than BN state government or not.
Have they implemented what is contained in their manifesto, such as local council election and election for village chief?
PAS talks about welfare state during the 308 election and today it is talking about Hudud law. Even Anwar also supports Hudud law by saying that it is only applicable to Muslims.
Is PAS on an expedition of fishing the Malay votes with Kuala Terengganu by-election in mind where Islam holds a central place in daily lives of average Malay in Terengganu?
Will the Chinese be frightened by Hudud law?
I think we have oversimplified Hudud implementation by talking only about the punitive action of Hudud law.
We tend to talk about restriction of the sale of alcohol and gambling outlet as if this is all about Hudud.
We have failed to talk about the bigger picture of Hudud and its effect in a multiracial country like Malaysia.
Today, there are over 50 countries in the world where Muslims is dominant with Islam as the official religion or they are Islamic statehood.
Strictly speaking, there are only 2 among 50 over countries that practice a more western form of Parliamentary democracy, which is Malaysia and Turkey.
The rest are often autocratic. They may have election about what is beyond our comprehension is that often some of these countries have Islamic Religion Council of which their position and power is way above the Parliament. The council members are appointed members.
It can be noted that most of these countries are not doing well economically despite they are having a lot of oil.
Generally, they are not investor and tourism friendly. Often, people will quote the example of Egypt and South Korea.
35 years ago, Egypt and South Korea have the same capital income. But today, Egypt’s per capital income is not even 20 percent that of South Korea.
Hudud implementation has wide ramification and implications in a multiracial country like Malaysia. It will be a messy job to implement Hudud only among Muslims and leaving the non-Muslims to the civil law.
Presently, we have enough confusion and controversy even with syariah and civil law. It will just add more confusion to what is already a difficult problem to resolve between syariah and civil law in some divorce cases where one of the spouse in converted to Islam.