HUDUD has dominated the national news in the last three weeks, particularly on social media platforms.
A number of leaders – political and non-political – have given their views about the latest attempt to make hudud law a reality in the country, although many have failed to do so with the proper application of the facts.
Ultimately, they contributed little to the discourse.
This was not the case with the Speaker of the Sarawak state assembly, Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, who said something important.
He said that if he were the Parliamentary Speaker he would have dismissed PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Private Member’s Bill because it was “unconstitutional”.
The Sarawak Speaker was correct to call it that. Hadi’s Bill would enable “an unconstitutional act to be committed”, as the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code II (1993) would come into play if the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 is changed.
Other states will follow surely in Kelantan’s footsteps (for who dares to be deemed to be less Islamic?) and our entire criminal justice system will be irrevocably changed.
The Sarawak Speaker’s concern that the “equality” provision under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution will end up being discarded is fully justified.
I hope our Parliamentary Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, will match the Sarawak Speaker’s acumen and concern on this matter when the Bill comes up in October.
Hudud has many supporters for sure, but they have been misled into thinking that hudud law will solve all our problems.
PAS officials have even suggested that implementing hudud will further protect Chinese women from sexual harassment. How is that so?
These officials are assuming that those who are likely to cause problems for “Ah mois” are Muslims. But if Chinese women are targeted for harassment or molestation by non-Muslims, then hudud law would not apply.
If the problem stemmed mainly from Muslim men, would it not make more sense to first give them the proper guidance, counselling and education so they can exercise control over their sexual urges?
That way they can learn to refrain from harassing women – of any ilk – so the subject of punishment doesn’t even arise.
In any event, the proposed hudud law in Kelantan doesn’t even refer to sexual harassment at all. When it comes to sexual offences, they seem only interested in zina or adultery.
Then we have the pro-hudud supporters who believe it will stem corruption. They are tired of this disease and understandably so. They want a quick solution.
But hudud does not provide for chopping off the hands of those guilty of corruption. That will only happen to those who commit theft and highway robbery (the latter of which we don’t see much of nowadays).
Hudud does not deal with corruption, abuse of power or money laundering. Hudud does not deal with modern criminal activities such as theft by electronic means.
Supporters of hudud should study the matter further. They are understandably exasperated with our current situation and are probably clamouring for quick solutions, but these cannot be found in hudud law.
A way forward can only be found in our willingness to be transparent in all our dealings, and to enforce the laws that we already have without fear or favour. Hudud does not give us extra courage or integrity to do what’s right.
That’s why we need to engage the young Malaysians who want hudud. We need to know why they are so attracted to Hadi’s law.
If they want to rid corruption, then we need to tell them that transparency and openness in the way we govern ourselves are the answers we are looking for. We need to change our values. Only then we can deal with corruption.
Hadi says Islam is perfect, but the trouble is that he and his fellow hudud champion, PAS vice-president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdul- lah, are not.
Will they try and explain to the people how their hudud law can contain corruption? Why has the Kelantan state government so far failed to implement an open tender system, thus providing the transparency we so desperately need in governmental decision-making, especially in matters relating to timber concessions and land approvals?
These are the kinds of questions that hudud supporters must first ask of Hadi and Co before asking for hudud to be implemented.
I would like to suggest that hudud supporters also start thinking about if and how the law can help with the other problems in our society.
What about dealing with drug addiction in the country for a change? Illicit sex is to be discouraged, of course, but drug addiction causes far more problems.
What concrete proposals can Hadi and Co offer to deal with this menace? The truth is hudud law does not address this issue at all.
Can these leaders find means to discourage addiction from wrecking the lives of young Malaysians, 80% of whom are Malays? How do they plan to help the police? What counselling service does the state government offer to the youth?
I know many Kelantan youths who are addicted to many types of drugs, but their Islamic leaders have done practically nothing to help them.
Hadi can put in as many Private Member’s Bills as he wants, so long as they are constructive and practical.
Put in a Bill on corruption and money laundering in the next parliamentary meeting. Put in another on drug addiction. Start doing something useful.
Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (firstname.lastname@example.org) is now a legal consultant. The views expressed here are entirely his own.