Hudud on hold – for now…
Many would have heaved a sigh of relief when Pas announced its decision to postpone the tabling of private member’s bills, writes Henry Loh.
I believe that many would have heaved a sigh of relief when Pas announced its decision to “postpone the tabling of a private member’s bill in the Dewan Rakyat over the implementation of hudud in Kelantan”.
The postponement was to allow a joint Kelantan Pas-federal government technical committee to discuss the matter and work out the next step.
In the weeks prior to that announcement, both the social media and the mainstream media were filled with news of the disagreements and arguments for and against hudud. The tension and unease was quite palpable.
It certainly did not help to have leaders from Islamic religious groups like Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) referring to Chinese migrants who came to Malaya as trespassers. In its latest salvo Isma is now alleging that if the DAP was left unchecked, the party was capable of causing another May 13 riot.
It is disconcerting and disturbing to read the provocative, divisive message propagated by Isma. In a multi-ethnic and multi religious society like ours – such messages are extremely lacking in discernment and good judgement.
As a comparison we urge you to read the joint civil society statement issued on the 45th anniversary of the infamous May 13, 1969 riots endorsed by 25 NGOs including Aliran. The heading itself urges all Malaysians to stand united against violence, hatred, exclusion and fear.
To try and understand the possible “political” motivation as opposed to the oft-quoted mandatory religious exhortation to push for the implementation of hudud it is definitely worth exploring the arguments put forth by Aliran president Francis Loh in a two-part article. He asked if Umno was goading Pas to push for hudud with the aim of “breaking up” Pakatan?
Whatever the real motivations for implementing hudud, it is clear that if and when it is implemented, it is bound to affect non-Muslims as well. For instance, if a robbery was to take place and there were two perpetrators. a Muslim and a non-Muslim, how would they be dealt with if they were both apprehended. Would one be prosecuted under hudud laws and the other under the existing Criminal Procedure Code? Are we able to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done?
Some Muslims are also enquiring about the feasibility of implementing hudud especially if the necessary conditions have not been achieved. For Zainah Anwar, speaking as a project director of the Global Movement for Justice and Equality, society must first be fair and just before hudud can be implemented. Examples from other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Pakistan seem to suggest that the law may not apply to the rich and powerful.
Hence there seem to be double standards. It is often the poor, the illiterate and women who are constantly persecuted. She suggested that if they are insistent on implementing hudud they should perhaps do a trial run on ministers, Members of Parliament and the royalty. Not a bad idea, don’t you think?
Based on the existing track record of countries that have implemented hudud, the accompanying feature would seem to be a less than satisfactory or poor human rights record. In fact there are those who argue strongly that hudud laws are clearly biased against women. For example,if a woman (or man) is raped, she wouldneed to produce four male witnesses or eight female witnesses. To Syerleena, this is nothing more than old fashion sexism.
And as the arguments for and against hudud dominate the media space, the harsh realities of the spiralling cost of living is affect more and more ordinary people. Despite a massive campaign by the government to explain the Goods and Services Tax (GST) the rakyat remain unconvinced; many are dreading the expected increased in financial burden. Hence they were willing to take to the streets to express their concern.
As an organisation that championshuman rights, Aliran joined Suaramand other concerned individuals to protest in front of the Bayan Baru police station against the high number of deaths in police custody. To mothers and families that have lost their loved ones whilst they were under detention, it was a sad ‘ Mothers day’.
The multi-ethnic and multi religious people of Malaysia have jealously guarded the overall peace and harmony that exist in the country. Let us continue to value and treasure that understanding and unity that we have painstakingly put together and stop the bigots, racists and zealots from having the final say…
Salam sejahtera dan salam berjuang.
17 May 2014