22 June 2012
Jun 22: Despite being warned not to deprive thousands of Muslims of their votes by holding general election when they are away during the Hajj season, prime minister Najib Razak seems bent on doing exactly that.
“In our history we have conducted general elections during the haj season,” said Najib as quoted by MCA-controlled daily The Star, fuelling speculation that elections would be called to coincide with the Hajj season.
Najib was believed to be referring to the 1986 general election on August 3, two weeks before Hari Raya Haji, when many Muslims were already in Makkah and Madinah.
This year’s Hajj falls at the end of October, but thousands of Malaysian pilgrims would be leaving for the Holy Lands weeks earlier and are expected to return only a month after the Hajj is over.
Prior to this, PAS leaders warned Najib against holding elections during the Hajj, saying it would deprive thousands of Muslims of their right to vote.
PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu said Najib should be answerable for placing difficulty to people who have to fulfill their religious obligation if general election during the Hajj season.
But Najib defended polls during this time, arguing that he was not stopping anyone from performing the Hajj.
“Only God decides on sins and blessings. We are not stopping anyone… if you want to go for Haj, go,” news portal The Malaysian Insider quoted him as saying.
Sensing that polls would be called during Hajj, PAS information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has urged members directly involved in the polls, including candidates, their representatives and election directors, to postpone their Hajj trip if election was called during that time. This led to accusations in the UMNO media that PAS was placing politics above Islamic obligations.
But many Muslim leaders have explained that while Hajj was obligatory, Islam has a set of other priorities including the obligation to choose a responsible government.
PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hasan has hit out at suggestions that the party was disallowing members from performing the pilgrimage, saying the onus was on BN.
“The government is urging people to vote, so which one is it? To vote or to perform the Hajj? It’s simple, if you want them do both, then don’t have them at the same time!” he said.