Though PAS is adamant to implement the hudud law in Kelantan, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has reassured the Chinese community that the controversial laws have no place in either the Pakatan Rakyat consensus or policy.
During a dialogue with over 200 community leaders from some 65 Chinese associations and guilds last night at Subang Jaya, the opposition leader promised to convey the community's concerns on the matter to the Islamic party.
Anwar reiterated that Pakatan works on the basis that any decision must have the consensus of all three component parties and in accordance to the federal constitution, or else it will not be implemented.
"When people ask about my stance on hudud law, I tell them that PKR and Pakatan's stance is to support the constitution.
"But when people ask my personal stance as a Muslim, this is a tricky question. If you answer 'no', then you are dead. But if you answer 'yes', then tomorrow's New Straits Times' headline would be 'Anwar supports hudud law'," he said.
As a Muslim, the Permatang Pauh MP said, he must accept the Quran which stipulates the hudud law. But its implementation and Pakatan's consensus on it are separate issues.
Responding to a comment from the floor that PAS leaders should understand that hudud law remains a concern of the community, Anwar assured that he will convey the message to PAS spritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat in Pakatan’s meeting scheduled for today (Wednesday).
Anwar pointed out that, like the Chinese over remarks about Islam, the Malay-Muslim community also worry over the comments made by some young DAP leaders.
MCA's fight for political survival has largely hinged on efforts to convince the Chinese electorate abandon Pakatan as a protest against PAS' hudud law, seen as the Islamic party’s way of garnering the support of the more conservative Malay electorate on the east coast.
Economically sensible, politically insensible
Anwar also pointed out the statement sensationalised by Malay dailies that Pakatan would trim down the one-million strong civil service should the coalition come into power.
"I have asked our leaders to make the correction that Pakatan would not disturb (the civil servants), because they are worried that they might be retrenched and unemployed if Pakatan takes over the federal government.
"Although, it makes a lot economic sense. But when it comes to politics, (it makes) no sense," said Anwar.
The charismatic orator also announced that the three-party coalition had agreed it would limit the prime minister's tenure to two terms and prohibit the premier from holding the post of finance minister if Pakatan were to take over the federal administration.
Citing the examples of other countries, Anwar stressed that an overstaying premier would lead to many problems, because "the prime minister wants to become emperor".
The former deputy premier and finance minister was against the idea of a person holding both the premiership and finance minister post, a practice started by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and continued by current Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
"I was finance minister before and a finance minister is busy from morning to night. However, the prime ministers have been holding the post of finance minister since 1998, because they do not trust others - maybe it involves too many projects," he quipped.
Asked whether the premiership could be held by a Chinese, Anwar skirted the question by asking, "Is it a necessary question?"
"If I answer 'yes', it would become the headline of Utusan Malaysia; if I said 'no', it would become the headline of Chinese dailies.
"So my answer is: the current consensus of Pakatan is that Anwar will be the next prime minister," said a smiling Anwar as the audience clapped in approval.