CYBERJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) party is entering the general election by going back to its roots of championing Islamic empowerment for the country, according to the manifesto it has launched for the upcoming polls.
The Islamist party's commitment to push through the proposed Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) to enhance the status of Syariah courts was one of the thrusts of the Gagasan Sejahtera manifesto launched on Sunday (March 18).
PAS is the main player in Gagasan, a coalition of parties comprising Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (Ikatan), which will be taking part in its first elections, and Berjasa, another Islamist but small political party.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said there was nothing to fear about Islamic leadership.
"Every religion has its own hudud. Hudud in Islam is an Islamic law put into place by Allah (God) to guide the people, not to punish them," he said.
"This law is able to overcome issues of crime and morality. When it comes to Islamic laws, we do not force non-Muslims to accept these as there is no forcing when it comes to religion," he told reporters after the launch of the manifesto.
PAS has said that it aims to win at least 40 seats and become a kingmaker as the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and the opposition Pakatan Harapan alliance battle for control of Malaysia's 222-member Parliament. It currently holds 13 parliamentary seats.
On how PAS could act as a kingmaker in the elections, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi said it could work with any pact or party provided that they agreed with the Islamic principles in Gagasan's manifesto.
PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who presented the manifesto, said it was based on nine main thrusts. These included increasing disposable income and providing new opportunities for the people, reducing the income gap and wealth distribution between the urban and rural areas as well as the harmonisation of the legal system and governance.
The manifesto also offered popular promises such as abolishing the Goods and Services Tax (GST), reducing crime and getting rid of student loans.
Datuk Tuan Ibrahim said the manifesto was drafted by a body comprising economy experts, tax experts, Syariah experts and those who were experienced in cultural and social affairs.
Nine main thrusts of the manifesto
* The formation of a government with integrity, trustworthiness and free from corruption.
* To increase disposable income and provide new opportunities for the rakyat.
* Empowering Malaysians to ease the impact of inflation and the rising cost of living.
* Reducing the gap of income and wealth distribution between urban and rural areas.
* Improving the quality of education to create better human capital.
* The harmonisation of the legal system and governance.
* Strengthening the concept of federalism by restoring certain rights of a state government.
* Empowering the people's voice, which is in line with the demands of Syura and democratic principles.
* Enhancing the effectiveness of current social support system for vulnerable groups.