CAIRO - Seeking to lure more voters in next year's election, Malaysia's main Islamic party has pledged to amend the constitution to allow the application of hudud in the Asian Muslim-majority country."We will implement hudud and amend the Constitution even if (it is) not with the current partners we have in Pakatan...may be there will be other pacts (Pakatan) that will lend us their support, Harun Taib, chief of PAS Ulema Council, was quoted as saying by the New Straight Times on Saturday, May 12.
"If we have enough majority (of seats), if PAS is stronger than our allies, we will implement (hudud and the amendment to the Constitution)."
The issue was first raised when the Islamic party's president Abdul Hadi Awang said that PAS had never backtracked on their intention to put hudud (Islamic penalties) to law and that it will seek to implement it if it takes federal power.
But the staetments drew fire from Karpal Singh, the national chairman of the secular Democratic Action Party (DAP).Harun reiterated the party support for Hadi on the issue of hudud, saying that the party views Karpal's criticism as a personal opinion as a lawyer.
"I think whether it is against the Constitution or not is just his (Karpal's) personal opinion and comment as a lawyer, Harun said.
"As a PAS member, I am fully behind Hadi."
With an estimated 800,000 members, PAS is the main rival of Prime Minister Najib Razak's United Malays National Organization.
A few years ago, PAS has enacted the hudud laws in Kelantan, to be imposed only on Muslims who represent about 90 per cent of the state's 1.5 million population.
The laws introduced Shari`ah punishments for theft, robbery, adultery, liquor consumption and apostasy.
Adamant The leader of PAS Ulema council confirmed that hudud can only be implemented through a parliamentary majority.
"If we have enough majority (of seats), if Pas is stronger than our allies, we will implement (hudud and the amendment to the Constitution)," Harun said.
He added that hudud remains PAS's intention despite the criticism it received from both its allies in Pakatan and rivals Barisan Nasional.
The Islamic party had already enacted the law in Kelantan and Terengganu but faced constitutional restraint in its implementation.
"We are a party that is championing Islam, Harun said.
Of course we will implement what is required by Islam. Pas will always be behind Hadi and the party's struggle to uphold Islam in the government and administration of the country."
Malaysia's parliamentary elections are due in 2013, but expectations are high that the polls could be called much earlier.
Muslim Malays form about 60 percent of Malaysia's 26-million population, while Christians make up around 9.1 percent.
Buddhists constitute 19.2 percent, Hindu 6.3 while other traditional Chinese religions make up the rest of the population.