Hudud: What’s in it for PAS, Pakatan and the Malaysians who voted for them?


(TMI) – Because to PAS, this is what the whole exercise is about – fulfilling a long-held aim and promise.

Pakatan Rakyat is about to go through another test of whether it can truly become a viable coalition to run multi-religious Malaysia when PAS tables a bill to give Kelantan the power to enforce its brand of an Islamic penal code.

When that happens, either in the June Dewan Rakyat meeting or at year-end, it would be a chance for the 5.6 million Malaysians to take a hard look at Pakatan and decide whether this is who they really voted for it in the 13thgeneral election.

Because to PAS, this is what the whole exercise is about – fulfilling a long-held aim and promise to not just its members and supporters, but to the people of Kelantan who have consistently voted for them since 1990.

According to PAS information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar, a private member’s bill will be tabled to allow Kelantan to enforce its shariah penal code which was passed by the state assembly in 1993 – when the Islamist party controlled the Kelantan legislature.

Making a dream come true

Putting into force its penal code or “hudud” has been a core PAS dream ever since the party was formed in 1951. And it predates even the formation of Pakatan Rakyat, said Mahfuz, who is also the party’s parliamentary whip.

The Kelantan Syariah Penal Code II which was passed by its state assembly in 1993 is part of realising that dream.

So was the passing of the Terengganu Shariah Penal Code in 2002. But enforcing it was another thing.

Both are classified as “Shariah laws” which only applicable to Muslims and can be enforced by individual states.

But their enforcement was stymied because certain sections covered offences, such as theft and murder, which are already under the Penal Code.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said according to the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, all civil and criminal laws were under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Also, the punishment of Penal Code offences is done by federal government-controlled Prisons Department.

Under the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed administration, the two hudud enactments were ignored.

But in last month’s parliamentary meeting, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom said the ruling Barisan Nasional government was willing to support any state government that wanted to implement hudud.

PAS then grabbed the chance. Its Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yaakob announced a private member’s bill will be introduced to allow the state to enforce the enactment.

The Islamist party’s legal experts are currently drafting the bill.

It is learnt that the bill does not seek to amend the Federal Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

Instead, PAS is seeking enough support to allow Kelantan to set stiffer punishments for shariah offences, which could include severing the hands for offences such as theft.

According to Paulsen, the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 restricts punishments for shariah offences to three months jail, fines up to RM5,000 or whipping up to six strokes.

The decision by Kelantan to table the bill through one of its parliamentarians has been backed by the party, said Mahfuz.

“PAS appeals to those who oppose the enforcement of hudud (in Kelantan) to at least respect the party’s democratic right to table bills relevant to it in Parliament,” Mahfuz said.

Let the votes be cast

Going by recent statements from PAS’ ally, DAP, civil society groups and the ruling BN, that opposition is stiff.

DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke has urged PAS to leave Pakatan if it goes through with the plan to enforce hudud in Kelantan.

“The implementation of hudud in any state has not been agreed to in the Pakatan framework.

“As a principled and responsible political party, PAS should respect and concur with that which the party itself has agreed to,” said Loke in an April 25 statement.

Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak has also gone on record to say that the time was not right for the country to have hudud.

Due to the huge impact such a bill would make, some PAS leaders wanted the party to get firm assurances from BN, especially Najib, that the bill could be tabled and passed, before the party went through with it.

“We do not want it to be a political gimmick which we fight over and which at the end only benefits BN,” said PAS vice president Datuk Husam Musa.

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