Hudud impossible without Islamic revolution, civil rights group tells PAS


(Malay Mail Online) – PAS will face too many legal and societal obstacles before it can bring hudud to Malaysia, civil rights group Lawyers for Liberty said, adding that without an Islamic revolution, the Islamist party’s plan would remain impossible.

Lawyers for Liberty Eric Paulsen pointed out that in order for the controversial Islamic law to be implemented, the Constitution, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, as well as all other structures and institutions that make up Malaysia would have to be reconstituted in accordance with Islam and the Quran.

“And that would not be possible, short of an Islamic revolution as in Iran or Afghanistan,” he said in a statement here.

Even worse, Paulsen told PAS, any attempt to amend the Constitution to include hudud would be deemed “unconstitutional” as it would violate the basic structure of the country’s highest law.

The activist berated PAS for its plan to implement the Islamic penal code in Kelantan, and accused the opposition party of “political grandstanding”.

He said PAS’s hudud move was merely calculated to burnish the party’s Islamic credentials, apart from trying to “out-Islamise” its political foes in Umno.

This, Paulsen said, is being done without considering the best interests of Malaysians.

He criticised the hudud law as being “cruel”, and pointed out that to implement such a harsh penal code in modern day living would first require extensive study and review.

“Harsh punishments like stoning to death (with stones of medium size), crucifixion and amputation of limbs are out of place in this day and age or in any modern and democratic society as they constitute torture, cruel and unusual punishment and would violate the right to life and the prohibition against torture,” he said.

In Islamic jurisprudence, hudud covers crimes such as theft, robbery, adultery, rape and sodomy. Punishments for the crimes are severe, including amputation, flogging and death by stoning.

PAS, a partner in federal opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat (PR), openly announced its bid recently to implement hudud in Kelantan, a Muslim-majority state which it leads.

The party plans to push through two private members bills in Parliament, which would enable it to enforce the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment II that was passed in 1993.

But the Islamist party is facing unyielding resistance from its PR partners PKR and DAP, and said it hopes to bank on votes from Umno MPs in order to get the bill approved. The party will need a simple majority of 112 votes for this.

Rejecting the notion of hudud law in any state in Malaysia, Paulsen repeatedly reminded PAS of the code’s “unconstitutional” nature.

He claimed that the hudud enactment in Kelantan was a political stunt to begin with as the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution does not accord any state legislative assembly the jurisdication to pass such a law.

Under the schedule, he said, all civil and criminal laws fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

“It also violates the Sharia Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 that restricted the jurisdiction to only offences punishable with imprisonment up to three years, fine up to RM5,000 or whipping up to six strokes,” Paulsen continued.

Finally, the lawyer told PAS that hudud is also in “serious breach” of Article 8 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality and non-discrimination. He pointed out that hudud would only be applicable to Muslims while non-Muslims would be subjected to the existing criminal law.

“Needless to say, hudud is not a magic, cure-all panacea to all the wrongs in society; see for example the implementation of hudud in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and northern Nigeria that has not resolved anything.

“Various Islamic scholars have also questioned whether implementing hudud in modern times is not only unrealistic but is most likely to produce the opposite result of Islamic justice and fair play,” he said.

Paulsen urged PAS to withdraw its bid to table the two hudud bills in Parliament, and told the party to re-examine its plan, taking into account the changes in modern society that would render such criminal laws outdated.

“The total absence of the necessary context and conditions for the implementation of hudud, all raises doubt and therefore hudud ought not be implemented,” he said.