A vote for Barisan Nasional in the upcoming Kuala Terengganu by-election is a vote for a secular and multi-ethnic Malaysia ruled by the Federal Constitution.
DAP national chairman Karpal Singh is not easily discouraged from speaking his mind, even if his words could potentially cost the Pakatan Rakyat the Kuala Terengganu by-election.
Unlike other politicians, Karpal Singh is neither a fair-weather friend nor one given to sacrificing core principles for political expediency.
Somehow, DAP leaders like supremo Lim Kit Sing and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok can hobnob with top PAS leaders, and lend credence to the Islamic ideology of PAS and at the same time defend a multi-ethnic society founded on a secular constitution that has no place for hudud or qisas laws.
However, they defend their association with PAS by arguing that hudud and qisas laws are only for Muslims, an argument also advanced by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while campaigning in Kuala Terengganu on Wednesday.
With his eye on the majority conservative Malay voters there, Anwar took the argument a step further, arguing that syariah laws should be extended beyond Muslim marriage, divorce and inheritance, but only for Muslims.
Karpal Singh, however, does not buy the 'only for Muslim' argument simply because the society we live in now is multi-ethnic and governed by a secular constitution that is the supreme law of the land.
There is no other higher authority and MPs take an oath in Parliament to promote and defend the same constitution.
Karpal Singh argues that for hudud laws to be applicable, the prerequisite is to set up an Islamic state in which Islamic laws would be applicable equally to both Muslims and non-Muslims, as is the case now in Iran and Saudi Arabia, two Islamic theocratic states.
Karpal Singh's position on an Islamic state has been unwavering ' Malaysia is not an Islamic state, the country's highest court had said so, and the constitution which rules all our activities, is a secular constitution.
It does not matter whether Umno or PAS leaders have declared Malaysia to be an Islamic state or nation. Such declarations have no legal effect except to rally the political faithful.
The issue is simple. 'Enacting and implementing hudud laws is unconstitutional,' says Karpal Singh.
The MCA has also criticised Anwar, with its Information and Communication Bureau chief Lee Wei Kiat saying the PKR leader's stand wavered and shifted according to the audience.
'His statement leaves the option of expanding syariah laws to non-Muslims open,' Lee said, calling on Anwar to uphold and defend the constitution.
'Our party rejects any form of a theocratic state and hudud laws. MCA would like to reiterate that Anwar should honestly inform voters that hudud laws would not only affect Muslims but also deprive their rights in various aspects of their lives,' he said.
Islam and an expanded role for syariah are shaping into key issues as traditional rivals Umno and PAS battle for the hearts and minds of the 80,000 voters in the Kuala Terengganu constituency.
Chinese voters, who number about 10%, might hold the key if the Malay vote is equally divided between PAS and Umno.
How non-Malays vote in PAS territory has always been coloured by their perception of Islam and an Islamic state where hudud and qisas laws would hold sway, compared to now where syariah is confined to Muslim family and matrimonial rights.
However, non-Malays bottled their fears and accepted PAS on March 8 after it dropped its Islamic state dreams for a welfare state.
They also believed Anwar would be able to bottle up the worst aspects of PAS.
With PAS raising the issue again and with Anwar advocating the expansion of syariah, albeit for Muslims only, the issue is back on the plate of non-Muslim voters.
PAS has a dream and is not shy about it - to hopefully one day capture state power and bring all Muslims under syariah law. At the same time, it promises to protect and promote non-Muslims but in accordance with the precepts of the Quran which it says is just and fair.
PAS has never come near to realising its dreams and that's not because of lack of effort or commitment. Their dedication, commitment and sacrifice for their cause are absolutely without parallel.
After suffering many ups and downs, they scored on March 8 in alliance with the DAP and Anwar's PKR, and are closer to achieving their dreams than ever before.
To satisfy non-Muslims, PAS has given a written undertaking to its allies in the Pakatan Rakyat that it would not implement an Islamic state or hudud laws if the Pakatan seized power but with an 'until and unless the allies agree' caveat.
Politics can make for strange bedfellows and such a promise is small comfort for people like Karpal Singh and others who feel that once the genie is out, there is no persuading it back into the bottle.
That's why the Kuala Terengganu vote is important for a secular, multi-ethnic Malaysia ruled by the constitution, because a victory for PAS advances its avowed dream one small step forward.
A defeat is just another small setback for them in a long, untiring journey.