All said and done, today was PAS’s day in Parliament. It had to be.
After having failed to convince Barisan Nasional component parties to support the controversial amendments to enhance Shariah laws at the ruling coalition meeting last week, the Umno-led government had to give the architect of the RUU355 his day in Parliament.
Hadi had to leave Parliament today with something to show his party members who will go to party polls in Alor Star at the end of this month.
The widely expected outright rejection of his bill on the Parliament floor would have put him on the defensive at the party’s muktamar and called into question the wisdom of working with Umno president Najib Razak all these months.
Remember, the idea of PAS and Umno calling a truce and working together has not been embraced by the Islamist party’s rank and file.
The decision by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia to suspend the debate and defer the matter to the next sitting allows Hadi and other promoters of the Bill to claim a strategic victory.
They staved off certain defeat. Between now and the next sitting, expect Hadi and his friends in Umno to launch a blitz to try and get the numbers needed to push through the bill.
Expect the PAS president to stick to the script he produced in Parliament.
The amendments were exclusively for Muslims and non-Muslims should not interfere or fear that the bill was an attempt to introduce hudud by the back door.
He said that since shariah laws were enforced in Kelantan and Terengganu, no non-Muslim has been nabbed or charged under the Islamic code.
Others speakers from his party followed his cue, as did a few from Umno.
Yes, it was an unusual day in Parliament. There was an executive order putting Hadi’s Bill at the top of the pile. There was a debate dominated by Pas. There was a sudden order by the Speaker to suspend the debate.
And the sworn enemy of Umno was given the run of the main legislative house of the country.
To be fair, Hadi was not the only one who walked out of Parliament with a smile.
As long as the bill stays undefeated or alive, the electoral arrangement between Umno and PAS stays alive. This arrangement will put an end to any hopes of one-to-one electoral contests in the coming election that many political analysts suggests would be dangerous for the Najib administration.
For now, even Najib can wear a smile.