The maze of hudud: its politics and its implications


It looks like hudud is slowly getting its foot in.

Victor Wong, The Ant Daily

PAS has expressed its intention to table a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament next month to pave the way for the PAS-led Kelantan government to implement hudud law in the state. The PAS-dominated Kelantan state assembly had passed the Islamic penal law in 1993.

In 2002, the PAS-controlled Terengganu state assembly too passed the Hudud Bill for implementation in the state. Recently, the Umno-led Perlis state government also expressed its intention to implement hudud law in the country’s smallest state. Even the Selangor Umno chief Datuk Noh Omar has openly voiced his support for hudud.

Given this trend, many of us are beginning to voice our concerns over the proposed implementation of hudud. It looks like hudud is slowly getting its foot in. Some said that hudud is unconstitutional, against human rights and does not serve any “proper justice”.

Arguments aside, there are also vast differences between theory and practice. One will find instances of criminal categories, procedures and punishments that do not really conform to the reality.

Our Federal Constitution has again shown its weaknesses by allowing states to come up with many kinds of religious laws that may or will come into conflict with one another or even with the civil laws. There are concerns on whether the religious authorities now could take over with regard to criminal matters and what the roles of the police and other law enforcement agencies are.

There is also the question of which law should take precedence and how the laws should be interpreted.

The other issue here is whether the religious or civil law may be weaker or greater in terms enforcement, punishment and applicability. As such, irresponsible people may take advantage of this kind of situation by way of converting to the said religion. We had witnessed the most recent custodial battle which has been turned into a religious battle just because one parent had converted and taken advantage of his religious standing.

So, is there any proper law which is supreme to neutralise the situation if such confusion continues to disrupt some legal process here? Worst of all, there is the danger of an alternative Syariah kind of federal constitution emerging if the extreme situation is not checked and resolved.

Then on the political side, when PAS’ intention to proceed with the Private Member’s Bill on hudud was made known, both sides of the divide, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat, raced to either support or condemn the idea.

Umno in the early stage had opposed PAS’ hudud plan but suddenly shifted its view and gave its support for the Syariah law to be implemented. As of today, MCA and Gerakan, which are both component parties of the Umno-led BN, have strongly criticised and blamed PAS’ partners in Pakatan — DAP and PKR — for their failure to stop PAS from going ahead with its hudud plan.

It has also been noted that MCA and Gerakan dared not oppose Umno over its support for hudud. So far, the other non-Muslim BN component parties, namely PPP, SUPP, SPDP, PRS, LDP, Upko, PBS and MIC, have not been actively opposing the hudud.

DAP has shown that it has been an equal partner in Pakatan by strongly objecting to the PAS hudud, even to the extent of calling on the Islamist party to quit the coalition if it is adamant about going ahead with its plan.

PKR has not shown its official stand but some of its leaders have voiced their objections to hudud individually. Currently, PKR has been preoccupied with its internal party elections.

Will MCA or Gerakan dare to caution Umno on its support for hudud, bearing in mind that Umno has 88 members of parliament (MPs) compared to PAS which has 21 MPs? This clearly shows that Umno is a willing kingmaker of the hudud plan.

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