Hadi’s folly

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Image: Malaysiakini.com

Hadi is pursuing a blurring of the lines of the jurisdiction of the Sharia courts and the Federal Constitution through a strategy of obfuscation as part of his Islamic theocracy agenda, writes Wandering Malaysian.

Hadi Awang, as the flag bearer of the Pas proposal to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), mobilised thousands to take to the streets in support of his bill.

It is a safe bet that the majority of these supporters waving RU355 banners do not fully understand the legal and social implications of the bill.

What Hadi is proposing sounds deceptively innocuous – which is increasing the jurisdiction of the Sharia court. The proposed amendment will lift the restrictions on the nature and extent of the punishment that the state legislative assembly may assign to the Sharia court.

The amendment Hadi is seeking will increase the Sharia courts’ maximum sentencing powers from three years’ jail, a RM5,000 fine and six lashes to a maximum of 30 years’ jail, a RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes.

The syaitan as always is in the details. What are these unspeakable offences that apparently are so wildly rampant amongst our fellow Muslim citizens that justifies this amendment?

These are offences generally defined as against the precepts of Islam except in regard to matters included in the federal list. These offences include sex outside of marriage, adultery, (including false accusations of these offences), alcohol consumption and apostasy.

Offences such as theft, robbery and rape are criminal matters under the federal list and should be dealt with in the Penal Code. But the hudud legislation that the Pas-led government passed in Kelantan in 1993 and in Terengganu in 2002 prescribes punishment for theft, robbery and rape. These hudud laws could not be implemented to date because of the limitations placed on the Sharia court by federal law.

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Hadi’s bill is deceptively seeking to remove these limitations to pave the way for the implementation of hudud laws. Hadi says that this will affect only Muslims as the offences under the state list only apply to Muslims and the
Sharia court has jurisdiction only over Muslims.

But the hudud legislation in Kelantan and Terengganu states that non-Muslims cannot be precluded from electing these enactments to be applied to them in respect of any offence committed by them within the state.

In other words, Hadi wants to impose his brand of Saudi Wahhabism in Malaysia and establish an authoritarian Islamic theocracy. This should not come as a surprise as he was a Saudi-funded scholar of the Islamic University of Madinah, a bastion of ultraconservative Salafism.

Hadi is therefore wilfully pursuing a blurring of the lines of the jurisdiction of the Sharia courts and the Federal Constitution through a strategy of obfuscation as part of his Islamic theocracy agenda. In fact, the amendment to a federal law will open the doors for any state legislative assembly to make laws empowering the Sharia court to impose punishments permitted by Islamic law, including hudud qisas and ta’zir, if they choose to, except the death penalty.

The Johor state religious committee chairman has already declared the support of the state government for the amendment. Every state could potentially end up having a parallel criminal justice system – with secular penalties for non-Muslims and draconian hudud penalties (enacted by the state legislature) for Muslims. There is no room for such a divided, apartheid-like system which will lead to the unravelling of Malaysian society with untold consequences.

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Hadi has upped the ante by proclaiming that any Muslim elected representative who does not support the implementation of the Act will be going against the will of God and cannot therefore be a true Muslim. He has labelled anyone who disagrees with him as “mosquitoes and ignoramuses” not worthy of his attention.

At 70 and in failing health, Hadi realises that he does not have time on his side to salvage his legacy, which is in tatters. He is presiding over a weakened and divided Pas and his sandiwara with Najib and Umno has further eroded his credibility. His supporters are claiming that the thousands who showed up last weekend is evidence of overwhelming support for the bill.

It is now up to the millions of Malaysians to oppose Hadi’s folly, which is contrary to the compassionate justice of Islam and which will undo 60 years of nation-building.

Wandering Malaysian is the pseudonym of an avid Aliran reader.

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