PAS's central committee member Hanipa Maidin says religion should not be an impediment to PAS cooperating with non-Muslims. - The Malaysian Insider, November 22, 2013.PAS’s outspoken central committee member Hanipa Maidin is banking on a blend of ulama and progressives, known as the Erdogans, to ensure a healthy balance in the party after its elections this weekend.
He said the new PAS leadership should also continue to strengthen the coalition of Pakatan Rakyat.
"To be honest, I would like the status quo to remain. The present team, which is made up of ulama and professionals, work really well together. Besides, PR is also more comfortable with PAS's current leadership,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
"The delegates are very mature. And they want a blend of both groups. Being a professional or an ulama is not a factor to win. If previous results are anything to go by, the incumbents have a good chance as the delegates know they are a good team," he opined.
Analysts have said the elections this weekend would see the rise of clerics as the Erdogans are losing support from the Youth wing because of attempts to seek support from outsiders.
The Sepang MP, who is one of 61 people vying for 18 seats on the central committee, said it does not matter whether he wins or loses.
"If I win, it's great. And if I lose, it's alright. It will not affect my contribution to the party," noted Hanipa, who has held a post in the central committee since 2005.
"But I still see myself as an underdog as there are bigger names out there.”
Asked if the party's seemingly shaky relationship with the more liberal DAP would influence the delegates to vote against the Erdogans, the 45-year-old lawyer shook his head.
"When we decided to work with DAP, we knew that we are not the same as we have different ideologies but despite that, we have many common and shared values. We talk about justice and accountability.
"We have been working well with them. Why do we Muslims have to worry about non-Muslims? They are also our brothers in humanity.
"Just because we work with DAP, it doesn't mean that I am less Muslim. I can still recite Quranic verses in Parliament. I can still promote the Islamic agenda. The DAP has no problems with that."
Religion, Hanipa stressed, should not be an impediment to PAS cooperating with non-Muslims.
The recently reported cracks between PAS and DAP, he went on, were just a ruse by Barisan Nasional to break up the alliance.
"Of course BN wants PAS to leave PR. That will be good for them because when PAS reaches the non-Muslims through PR, it is a threat to them.
"So they use all kinds of tactics to break us up. I hope this will be understood by all PAS members," he said.
Hanipa is also known for being vocal in Parliament as well as within the party, where he has ticked off members over various issues.
The lawyer, who graduated from the International Islamic University of Malaysia with a degree in law and Syariah law, admitted that his outspoken behaviour could be due to his educational background.
"I have a principle. If something is wrong, I don't care who it is, even if they are from my own party, I will speak up.
"Maybe my background in law has contributed to that. It's nothing personal. I want to be vocal to voice out issues and to contribute to the lively debate in Parliament," he said with a laugh.
Hanipa, who was previously accused of being a Shia follower, lamented that his critics were “naive” and "simplistic".
"Jais (Selangor Islamic Religious Department) arrested a few Shia followers and then made detrimental statements about them. I represented them in the filing of the defamation suit against the department recently. Because of that, I have been accused of being a Shia. They are so naive, so simplistic," he said.
"And also because they accused Mat Sabu of being a Shia, I am guilty by association," he added, referring to PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu.
A champion of freedom of speech, Hanipa acknowledged that Muslims were “uneasy” with his stand on the sex blogger couple who had uploaded a picture of bah kut teh (a herbal pork dish) with the caption "Selamat berbuka puasa (dengan bak kut teh... wangi, enak menyelerakan)" which sparked outrage among Muslims.
"They made a mistake and it is our Muslim responsibility to forgive if they apologise. Many Muslims don't exhibit Islamic behaviour. The way they react to things is not part of Islamic teaching.
"And because of what I said about this, I was accused of being a liberal and all that," he said.
In a message to his critics, Hanipa said: "If you accuse me, I am ready to forgive you if it is not true. But if it is true, I will apologise.
"For me, if you say something that is untrue, it is between you and God. Who am I to punish or judge you?”
He also revealed that his interest in politics began in secondary school when he read books on the Islamic revolution and movements from around the world and stumbled upon Mat Sabu giving a ceramah. He joined the party in 1986.
The father of two daughters and three sons - aged between six and 16 years - started practising law in 1994.
A year later, he contested in his first general election in Kota Tinggi, where he also met his wife of 17 years.
He, however, lost and continued to be unsuccessful in the next three elections - 1999 (Parit Sulong), 2004 (Batu Pahat) and in 2008 (Tanjung Karang).
The Batu Pahat native finally won the Sepang parliamentary seat in the May 5 polls this year after beating three other candidates, including BN's Mohd Zin Mohamed, with a 1,104 majority. - November 22, 2013.