It’s almost a cut and dry move – hudud will be in


There will also be a crisis in Barisan Nasional if Umno MPs give PAS their support in Parliament. The storm surrounding Kelantan’s hudud move may turn into a typhoon by then.

Joceline Tan, The Star

THE big day is very near. The Kelantan PAS government will take another step towards implementing hudud this week and, according to some, a step closer to hea­ven.

The Bill will be tabled on Wednesday and is expected to have a smooth-as-silk passage because the 12 opposition assemblymen from Umno have committed to support it.

“This is God’s law. It will have 100% support from Umno,” said Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad who is Kok Lanas assemblyman and state Umno secretary.

The Bill to amend the Syariah Criminal Code II 1993 will be tabled by no less than Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob.

His deputy, Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, who has been the principle spokesman on the hudud issue, has been busy fielding media queries from all over.

He told them that they should attend because “you will be part of history”.

Mohd Amar is right. History is about to be made and Kelantan will soon join the ranks of about one dozen Muslim countries that practise Syariah law. Or more specifically, it will be like Aceh, the sole province in Indonesia that is go­verned by Syariah.

For many non-Muslims, though, it is akin to a leap into the unknown despite Mohd Amar saying that the Bill is clear that non-Muslims will be exempted from hudud in the current Bill. The 1993 legislation had caused concern because it gave non-Muslims the option to be prosecuted under civil or hudud.

Alwi, who has been studying the Bill ahead of the assembly sitting, admitted that a great deal of thought and study had gone into it.

He said another key point of the impending Bill concerned apostasy. The previous legislation gave apostates only three days to repent before their heads come off. The harsh punishment has been amended to allow apostates an indefinite period of time to repent, to be re-educated and return to the right path.

Another significant amendment involves punishment for theft. Alwi said reports about chopping of hands for such acts have been over-dramatised.

“Punishment for theft will be more humane. There are 20 conditions to be met before any hand can be chopped off,” said Alwi.

He said according to the Bill, if someone owes you money and you steal things from him that are of equal value to the debt, you may actually escape punishment. A thief who steals pro­perty that has not been properly secured by the owner may also get away with it.

Famine and poverty, according to the Bill, are also grounds for a thief to escape punishment.

The current Bill also disallows anal sex between husband and wife, something which the earlier law was silent on and which had been criticised as giving the green light for it.

However, the general consensus is that rape will be near impossible to prosecute under hudud because no one in his right mind would commit rape in front of four witnesses.

What next, once the Bill is passed?

Heaven will have to wait for a while because Kelantan needs to overcome another legislative hurdle before it can move into implementation. Two private members’ Bills have to be tabled in Parliament to give wider powers to Syariah judges and the federal security arms like the police and the Prisons Department.

Parliament may not be as friendly to PAS. Its own coalition partner DAP as well as parties like MCA and Gerakan will raise objections.

It is hard to see how Pakatan Rakyat can still be together once the Bills reach Parliament. Something will have to give and their “marriage” will reach a critical juncture.

There will also be a crisis in Barisan Nasional if Umno MPs give PAS their support in Parliament. The storm surrounding Kelantan’s hudud move may turn into a typhoon by then.

But even at this advanced stage, not many are convinced that Kelantan is ready to put it into effect because it requires a whole new way of policing and enforcement.

Alwi will be Umno’s prime debater for the Bill.

Just a year ago, he was the one who had needled the mentri besar about hudud during the state assembly, causing the latter to jump to his feet and declare that hudud will be implemented this year or he would resign.

As a Muslim, Alwi supports the Bill 100% but as a lawmaker he has 101 questions. Thankfully, he will only be asking a few key questions du­ring the assembly.

But they will be tough questions and the government bench had better come up with convincing answers because the whole country is watching.

  • The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.