In recent days, the issue of introducing hudud [Islamic penal code based on Shariah] has once again come to the fore, with PAS, the Islamic-based political party about to introduce a bill in the northern state of Kelantan this Monday.
Many Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, have spoken against such a move pointing out that the introduction of hudud together with the necessary constitutional amendment that would have to follow, would ultimately transform the very nature of the Malaysian state from a secular democracy into an Islamic theocracy where all aspects of life, both private and public will be “guided” by religious officials. It would be the death knell of freedom in Malaysia.
As it stands, Hudud is not just completely inconsistent with Malaysia’s federal constitution; it is also completely out of place in a multiracial, multi-relgious, multicultural nation like Malaysia. Hudud would forcibly impose a uniquely Islamic regiment on all, whether they subscribe to it or not. More importantly, it is also a fundamentally flawed legal system that is subject to interpretation with little regard for the kind of basic human rights that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Columnist Syed Akbar Ali (Outsyed the box), in a December 17th Malaysia Insider article noted, for example, how rape victims are seriously disadvantage under hudud. “Under hudud law, they say a woman who has been raped and becomes pregnant must bring four male witnesses of good character who witnessed her being raped and testify to that effect in court. Otherwise the same female rape victim will be charged for adultery/fornication and stoned to death.” He then went on to add the chilling fact that in “over 1400 years of Islamic history, there has never been even one recorded case where a female rape victim was able to produce four male witnesses of good character who witnessed her being raped and testified to that effect in court.” And this is not something from the distant past, it is still going on under hudud in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia today.
Muslim scholars and apologists insist, of course, that hudud is just and fair, fairer even than the penal code that is found in most democracies and that it makes for a peaceful and harmonious society. That is a laughable claim that is entirely at odds with reality. On the basis of all I have heard, read and seen in Malaysia and elsewhere, I am absolutely convinced that hudud has no place in a free and democratic society. Like I said, it is a fundamentally flawed system that puts too much power in the hands of religious officials, especially the kind of officials we have seen in Malaysia who are petty, intolerant and narrow-minded, more interested in punishment, control and orthodoxy than in true justice and equality.
Just look at the way the whole ‘Allah’ issue was handled: against the consensus of international Islamic scholars and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, our religious officials insist that the word Allah can only be used by Muslims. And we are expected to have confidence in their judgement?
It is my conviction that fallible men who claim to act on behalf of an infallible God should never be given that kind of power because it is a sure recipe for disaster. The only power they should have is the power of moral suasion grounded in humility, love and servanthood.
We are again at a critical juncture in our history. Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang is entirely correct in saying that the introduction of hudud in Kelantan represents a point of no return for Malaysia [see Malaysia Insider article below]. If hudud is implemented in Kelantan, we will be firmly embarked on the road to a fully fledged Islamic state. And make no mistake, it is the highway to perdition!
Those who argue that hudud can happily coexist with our secular democratic traditions are either completely naive or deliberately disingenuous.
As Syed Akbar Ali also noted in the aforementioned article, “we must understand the nature of Shariah law… [it] is not designed to play second fiddle to any other legal system… it was designed with the firm notion of supremacism in mind. It will grow and ultimately subsume whatever system with which it is co-existent. No amount of curtailment and restrain will help this due to the absolutist nature of Shariah legal texts.”
It is now incumbent on all Malaysians, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who cherish the secular moorings of our constitutional democracy and the dream of a Malaysia where all citizens irrespective of their race or religion are assured their fundamental rights and freedoms, both constitutional and universal, to speak out against this ill-conceived and retrogressive move. Muslims, in particular, must ask themselves whether they believe in the utopia of the hudud that is now being proclaimed by the Islamists among us or the harsh and oppressive reality of the hudud that we see in Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Speak now all or forever hold your peace and suffer the consequences.
MERRY CHRISTMAS MALAYSIA!
Kit Siang calls Kelantan hudud move ‘point of no return for Barisan, Pakatan’ ~ Malaysia Insider
Kelantan’s special assembly sitting this Monday to amend its Islamic enactment to implement hudud will be a point of no return for both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR), warned DAP’s Lim Kit Siang [left]
The veteran leader said if the assemblymen from Umno in the east coast state throw their support behind PAS’s move to amend the Shariah Criminal Code Enactment II, BN would have undergone its most radical transformation in character since its formation.
The PAS-led Kelantan state government wanted to amend the law as part of a move to pave the way for a private member’s Bill to be tabled in Parliament to enable the state to enforce the Islamic penal code.
Lim said such a move was against the stand of Malaysia’s founding fathers and its first three prime ministers who opined that hudud is against the Federal Constitution, which states that the nation is a secular state.
“But it will be a point of no return not only for BN, it will also be a point of no return for PR, as there is no way PR can survive in its present form after one of its component parties can act so unilaterally and arbitrarily as to show utter contempt for the other parties, the PR common policy framework as well as the PR operational consensus principle,” he said in a statement today.
The DAP parliamentary leader also dispelled claims by PAS information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar that PR had “agreed to disagree” on hudud, calling it a “fallacy” and stressed that there was no such agreement.
Referring to the 2011 joint PR statement, Lim said hudud is not part of the pact’s common policy framework until all parties agreed to it.
“The meaning and implication is very clear – that PAS will not unilaterally push for the implementation of hudud without the agreement of all PR parties.
“Now we are informed that PR Leadership Council will not even be notified of the details of the Kelantan State Assembly special sitting on December 29 to implement hudud – raising the question of the weight and value of PR in the eyes of the PAS leadership,” he said.
The Gelang Patah MP pointed out that of the total 13 general elections held since 1959, opposition parties performed best in the 1999, 2008 and last year’s national polls when they contested as a group.
In 1999, the three opposition parties of PAS, DAP and PKR were in Barisan Alternatif, while in the last two polls, the trio were part of PR.
He said if hudud was an issue prior to GE13 in May last year, BN would have regained its two-thirds majority in Parliament and PR will not only have lost Selangor but will not be able to make inroads into the southern state of Johor.
Under that scenario, PR’s parliamentary seats could have been slashed to 46 from the current 89, while its state seats would have been reduced from 229 to only 134.
Additionally, all four of PAS’s seats in Johor and one in Malacca would have come to nought, Lim further said.
“It is sad if such a political scenario should come to pass, especially for Malaysians who had hoped that change for the better is at last very close,” he added.
DAP had repeatedly demanded that PAS shelve its plans in Kelantan, noting that the controversial Islamic criminal law was not part of Pakatan Rakyat’s common policy framework, while PKR has remained neutral.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had admitted that the Kelantan government’s plans to table an amendment on hudud in its state assembly was problematic, as it had no powers to enforce the Islamic criminal law in the state.
“There will be many problems because you have to amend Federal laws. You don’t have the power to enforce (hudud).
“Let’s say they do it anyway. Who will make the arrests? Who will bring them (the suspects) to prison?
“It’s not within their (the state government’s) powers. So there’s a lot of problems,” he had said.
PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali meanwhile had said hudud was never part of PR common policy framework, in a reminder that such issues should be discussed first by the coalition’s presidential council.
PAS’s attempt to push for hudud is not new. Previous attempts by the party to table similar bills have been blocked by the BN-dominated Parliament and have never been voted on.
But in recent times, Umno has openly expressed support for PAS’s latest bid, with the main obstacles being the Islamist party’s own allies.
In April, PAS had announced plans to introduce two private members’ bills in Parliament to allow it to enforce hudud in Kelantan.
But in doing so, it again resurrected the on-and-off conflict between DAP and PAS that dates back to the 1990s and which had kept the two from cooperating for decades.
However in May, following protests and severe criticism, PAS decided it would postpone the tabling of the bill to allow sufficient time for a joint Putrajaya and Kelantan government technical committee to study the implementation of the Kelantan Shariah Penal Code II.
This time around, PAS’s attempt to push for hudud had prompted Barisan Nasional party Gerakan to urge PKR and DAP’s 18 Muslim MPs to vote against the private members’ bill if it comes to Parliament.
Of the total 37 parliamentary seats held by DAP, two of its federal representatives are Muslims, namely Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari and Raub’s Datuk Ariff Sabri, while 16 out of 29 PKR MPs are Muslims.
However, Gerakan’s call had been rebuffed by both PKR and DAP. – December 23, 2014.