Right to question hudud law

By Azmi Sharom, The Star

My problem with religion-based law making, is the idea that it cannot be questioned because it is divine in origin. In a democracy, if we can’t question the laws that affect our lives, then it is not a democracy at all.

POOR Fulham. Despite thoroughly thrashing Tony Fernandes’ Queens Park Rangers 6-0, all the sports headlines were about the other London derby where Tottenham Hotspur edged Arsenal 2-1. I suppose it is all about perception; just what is important and what is not.

As much as I would like to think that the game at White Hart Lane is an indication that the power in North London has shifted to Seven Sisters road, I am ever cautious and am reminded of the saying that a swallow does not a summer make.

Although I suppose in the case of the Spurs-Arsenal rivalry, considering that we have beaten them three times in the last four league clashes, it just may be there is more than one swallow fluttering about.

However, I digress. My earlier point remains and that is the perception of what is important and what is not.

At the moment, there are all sorts of news stories floating about and they point towards one thing, elections.

PAS has once again raised the hudud issue. Frankly, I am not too worried about this matter.

Pakatan Rakyat has stated that they will not go on with hudud unless all the component parties agree.

This seems highly unlikely as DAP will never agree and I am sure there are some voices in Keadilan too who will not be comfortable with hudud.

However, if they do try to introduce it, I will most certainly object.

The reason why I object is encapsulated in Hadi’s (PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang) statement in the press on the matter (if it was accurately reported) where he said that hudud cannot be questioned.

Whoa there, “cannot be questioned”? I am sorry, if you have personal beliefs that affect only you and you won’t question them, that’s all fine and dandy.

But if you are going to introduce something into the public sphere, something that will affect the lives of the citizens, I don’t care if the source of what you are introducing is divine, it jolly well better be questioned.

And I don’t care if you say I have no degree from Al-Azhar and no goatee to go along with it, I will question any law that any government wants to introduce.

This has been my problem with any religion-based law making, the idea that simply because it is divine in origin means it can’t be questioned. In a democracy, if we can’t question the laws that affect our lives, then it is not a democracy at all.

And then there is poor Mat Sabu; charged with criminal defamation for questioning the heroism of the policemen who fought at Bukit Kepong.

I checked the Penal Code and sure enough, criminal defamation can be committed against the dead.

It’s a bit weird because how far back does this provision extend? I mean in historical matters there will always be different perspectives and differing opinions based on new findings and discoveries.

In case the Government decides to charge me with criminal defamation for questioning the character of one of our early leaders, let me use an American example.

Thomas Jefferson; renaissance man who helped draft the American Constitution and ensured a modern democracy where all men were created equal, or a shameless hypocrite slave owner who fathered numerous children with his female slaves?

Both views are correct and depending on your own take on history the view that will take precedence will differ.

And surely that was what Mat Sabu’s statement was; his take on history.

Was it insensitive, probably, should he be prosecuted for it, I don’t think so.

However, all these issues are really not that important to me. I think they are just the usual sound and fury that come with politicians posturing in the light that elections are coming.

The real important story for now should be the Budget and more importantly the alternative budget that the Pakatan has unveiled.

It is really good to see Pakatan acting like they have a Shadow Cabinet (although they don’t have one really).

We need to see concrete counter proposals from the opposition to not only help us question the Government’s Budget but also to assess the alternatives which a different government could give. This is vital in a mature democracy.

I certainly hope that discussions in the next couple of weeks will be about comparing the two budgets for surely that is more important than a hudud law which is unlikely to be implemented and Mat Sabu’s supposed lack of patriotism.