PAS shows it’s not ready to implement hudud


(FMT) – It’s inability to properly enforce a simple local law raises serious questions about its readiness for hudud and all its complications.

PAS politics has now settled into something like a comfortable rhythm, with someone from the party uttering something ridiculous every week or so. Malaysia’s oldest Islamist party has been fairly prominent for all the wrong reasons ever since the ulama faction started flexing its muscles. After all, we’re talking about a party whose information chief recently claimed that the whole K-Pop debacle that everyone’s talking about was part of a secret agenda to “degrade Islam”.

So what is the latest thing that PAS has done to earn the scrutiny of the general public? It has to do with a little ruling imposed on the Muslim women of Kelantan who work in the service industry, requiring them to wear tudungs during working hours.

This ruling is two decades old and, as we understand it, somewhat rarely enforced. But it gives the powers that be in Kelantan the right to fine Muslim women for not covering their hair during working hours – in wet markets, supermarkets, hypermarkets, food outlets and all other commercial centres that require operating licences from the local authorities. This authority extends to the ability to fine non-Muslim operators should their workers be found not abiding by the state’s official dress code for women.

While some may view this is a somewhat regressive law, we must consider the cultural and religious background of the society, but that being said, the ruling itself is fundamentally unfair not only to the women, but also to non-Muslim employers, who should not be held responsible for a personal lapse of judgement on the part of the employee.

Be that as it may, the enforcement has been so confusing that the Kota Bharu Municipal Council had to put out a statement denying that it was going after everyone. “I want to deny those claims,” said an official. “This false news is scaring outsiders away. We have only issued summonses to women involved in the service industry.”

The enforcement came on top of the so-good-its-bad Ops Gempur Aurat, or the Aurat Attack Operation, where the state authorities took it upon themselves to enter the public space and fine women for exposing parts of the body that should be covered. The operation was carried out between October and December. Of course, it was only in October that PAS decided to enforce the ruling, which we can only assume was promptly forgotten soon after it was passed long ago.

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