Analysts: BN already gained from Shariah Bill stance

BY A. RUBAN
Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the launching of Umno Federal Territories Convocation in Dewan Tun Ismail November 23, 2014. Political analysts said Umno could adopt a softer position on the so-called Shariah Bill. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Barisan Nasional has reaped the benefits of its position on PAS’s bid to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, according to political analysts.

They said Umno could consequently adopt a softer position on the so-called Shariah Bill.

“I think BN abandoning PAS at this stage is because it believes it has done enough harm to break-up a possible partnership between PAS and PPBM (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia) and Pakatan Harapan,” Faisal Hazis, associate professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, told Malay Mail Online.

PAS has demanded that its suitors must support Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill to raise Shariah punishments.

Umno was the sole party to openly back the Bill, and previously said BN would eventually take over its tabling.

Yesterday, BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the coalition will no longer do so.

When contacted, Penang-based analyst Ooi Kok Hin said it was unlikely that BN would have actually tabled the Bill.

He noted there was resistance within the coalition. BN Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin today said the coalition was always going to make the decision on the Bill as a whole.

“Of course, Najib’s electoral chances are higher now that opposition is split and PAS is in no man’s land,” Oh said.

Oh Ei Sun, adjunct senior fellow at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the announcement would not put an end to PAS-Umno cooperation.

He said the cooperation was still possible if PAS could “swallow its pride”.

“Umno is not deliberately trying to cut PAS loose, just that in politics, sometimes you need to make painful calculations and decisions, and this is one such instance,” he said.