Hudud incompatible with multi religious society

The Hudud amendment passed in Kelantan state assembly still preoccupies the thoughts of both Muslim and non-Muslim Malaysians. It is rightly so since the amendment can have far-reaching consequences that cannot be reversed. It is one way all the way.

Malaysians of all races and religions have to stand united to say a big ‘NO to Hudud’ once and for all to the proponents of this punitive bill. Party president Abdul Hadi Awang said PAS wanted to test Muslim MPs on their support for the Islamic criminal law. It is this kind of holier-than-thou attitude that we must stop. Religion is a personal matter and nobody has the right to test anyone’s faith in God. Islam gets a negative image due to the actions of people like Hadi and hardliners.

For a multiracial and multi-religious country, Hudud is certainly not an appropriate law. Many quarters have voiced their opposition to this bill and now PAS hardliners are saying that the government can save the money needed for operating prisons. This is a lame excuse for someone who has run out of bullet. Ulamas and Muslim hardliners must stop speaking for others. Everyone has equal access to God and these hardliners are not gatekeepers of heaven or hell to decide who is to go where. This attitude of ‘holier than thou’ of PAS hardliners and their UMNO supporters causes huge problems for moderate and ordinary Malaysians of different religions, including Muslims themselves.

This amendment is more about control and politics than anything else. It is public knowledge how the FT Islamic affairs department hounded and humiliated a Muslim bookstore manager after the High Court, Court of Appeal and even the Shariah High Court had all freed her of any wrongdoing. Now, she has to beg this department to let her go and to stop torturing her.

She has spoken up several times:

“My crime was being a Malay and Muslim store manager who could be a scapegoat for Jawi to show its power.”

“I thought the pain and humiliation I suffered for three years ended with the courts’ decisions. However, my happiness was short-lived.”

“Jawi, please let me go off this oppression.”(sic)

Already, JAWI, JAKIM and other state Islamic affairs departments feel that they are above the law. Life will become a veritable hell on earth for those like the bookstore manager if these departments are further equipped with Hudud punitive laws.

We already face problems with having two sets of laws – civil and shariah. These include body-snatching in the midst of grieving relatives and family without evidence of conversion, marriages interrupted because one party has Islam written somewhere in their identity documents and schoolchildren converted by teachers without their parents’ knowledge. The Islamic affairs departments are more keen on enforcing their religious law than on enforcing justice and fairness. Hudud law will certainly complicate and make matters worse.

When Sabah, Sarawak, Peninsular Malaya and Singapore, all separate entities, agreed to come together to form Malaysia, the condition set by Sabah and Sarawak was that there was to be no Islamic state and Hudud.

Yet, hardliners like Hadi Awang do not honor their words, as was seen in the Selangor Menteri Besar appointment. If they do not honor their words, how can people trust them regarding Hudud. They can twist their words and all promises of fairness and light punishment may be broken when it comes to delivering actual punishment. What happened to the welfare state promised by PAS before GE13?

The Hudud issue remains unresolved because Prime Minister Najib is steadfast in his silence. Malaysia has the weakest prime minister now. The Hudud amendment to the Kelantan Syariah Code 11 1993 has put Malay MPs in a difficult position. Either way they will be criticised. The prime minister must at least provide protection for those who openly voice their opinions. Threats of murder and rape must be acted upon by the police. If this is not possible, then there is no democratic process as claimed by PAS.

Explore posts in the same categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

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