Opposition divided over hudud issue


A dream is about to come true for PAS which is pushing Parliament to give the nod to implement hudud law in Kelantan but its coalition partners are having nightmares about it.

Joceline Tan, The Star

MANY DAP leaders had thought that it was the usual hot air from PAS when news reports on the Kelantan government pushing for hudud in the state began appearing.

They did not take it seriously, that is, until about two or three weeks ago.

“We thought they were not serious but now I hear that Hadi (PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang) himself will move the Bill,” said DAP elder Karpal Singh, the man who had once declared that the Islamic state would be implemented over his dead body.

PAS has never been more serious. The party is preparing to table two private member’s Bills in Parliament to pave the way for the implementation of hudud in Kelantan.

The spectre of hudud may be a nightmare for DAP leaders but it is a dream come true for pious Muslims in Kelantan, and former Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat has openly urged all Muslim MPs to support the move.

At a closed-door briefing in Kota Baru on Monday night for party leaders in the state, Hadi sent an emissary to convey his personal support as well as that of the PAS central leadership.

That is the level of commitment in the party.

The party has also set up a technical committee on hudud headed by Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah.

He has been tasked as the principle spokesman on the matter.

“We have been waiting more than 20 years for this. We used to accuse Umno of not giving us the chance to implement hudud. But Umno has opened their arms to hudud, they are ready to help us, so why not we take it?

“If they are sincere, they will support our Bills. If they do not support, people will know who Umno really is,” he said, referring to Law Minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom’s statement that Umno does not oppose hudud.

Nik Mohd Amar said the Bills require only a simple majority for approval because they do not involve amending the Federal Constitution.

He said the first Bill is to seek permission from Parliament for Kelantan to enact the Act under Article 76 (1) (c) of the Constitution so that the state can proceed to implement hudud.

The second Bill seeks to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, giving the Syariah courts expanded powers and jurisdiction over crimes such as theft, consumption of alcohol, illegal sexual intercourse, adultery and rape.

This is necessary because hudud sentences are more severe and include capital punishment, stoning and amputation of hands whereas punishment for crimes under the existing Syariah Court Act are much lighter – a maximum of three years imprisonment, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the rotan.

Once the Bills go through, PAS will be able to implement the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code II Enactment which was passed in 1993 with the support of all Umno assemblymen in the state.

The wheels have been set in motion and if all goes as planned, the Bills will be tabled at the June meeting of Parliament where it requires only 112 votes to be passed.

It seems quite inevitable because there are 135 Muslim MPs of which 88 are from Umno, 21 from PAS and the rest from component parties.

The most intriguing part about the Kelantan move is that PAS is going about it in an unilateral way.

It has neither consulted nor informed its Pakatan Rakyat partners.

As a result, most of them are still ignorant about the nature of the Bills.

“This is not right. Something like this should be brought up for discussion among Pakatan leaders. It can potentially damage the coalition,” said Karpal.

Karpal has been his usual vocal self on the Kelantan move. But the same cannot be said for the other top leaders in his party.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, who has lots to say about every issue under the sun, has been going on about the missing MH370 and the security problems in the east coast of Sabah but has been rather reticent about what PAS is up to in Kelantan.

The party is under pressure to deliver to the demands of the Chinese whose votes propelled them to their most successful general election ever last year.

The hudud issue will be more complicated and controversial than the kalimahAllah issue or the Bible seizure in Selangor.

The hudud issue has also resulted in traditional foes taking the same side – PAS and Umno are taking the “perpaduan ummah” or Muslim brethren stand on this issue while DAP and MCA are opposed to the move.

The non-Muslim Pakatan leaders are looking to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to take the lead in finding a solution.

Anwar has conceded that PAS has every right to implement hudud in Kelantan but that DAP and PKR were not obliged to support the PAS private member’s Bills.

Nik Mohd Amar seems puzzled about the uproar. Like many PAS politicians, he has this innocent belief that non-believers only need to know and understand Islam to appreciate the religion.

“We cannot understand why DAP is against us. The response from all over the country has been very positive. If we talk about democracy, then it is our democratic right to implement hudud,” he said.

Religion has once again proven to be a long thorn in the side of multi-racial coalitions, be it Pakatan or Barisan.

Karpal’s hair was still dark and he had yet to be confined to his wheelchair when he made that famous “over my dead body” remark back in 1990.

It takes a lot to faze this fearless politician but it is possible that even Karpal has been stumped by the Kelantan move.