KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 ― Despite PAS’s apparent haste to implement hudud in Kelantan, many in the Islamist party are still greatly divided over the controversial bid, Sepang MP Mohamed Hanipa Maidin conceded at a forum last night.
According to Hanipa, proponents from Kelantan PAS believe they are obliged to implement hudud as voters had endorsed the law before, and that denying the public of it would be undemocratic.
“In PAS we have two views. One view is that we have to proceed because we are answerable to the people of Kelantan,” Hanipa told hundreds who crowded an auditorium in the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here for the forum on hudud.
“Some also have the view that it is not the priority right now, we have to at least capture Putrajaya first, then we have a discussion [on hudud].”
Hanipa explained that although he sides with the latter camp, his personal opinion does not carry any weight in the party.
“Sometimes we also have a problem with overzealousness. Either in Kelantan or anywhere,” he added.
Earlier in the forum, Hanipa said he felt that hudud was only meant to be implemented in a perfect Islamic government with good governance and policies.
“Our problem is because all the Islamic countries which implemented hudud, they are corrupt government, they are failed states,” said Hanipa.
“If Norway, if Sweden, if Switzerland implement hudud, it’d much easier for us to campaign.”
He then quickly admitted that while Kelantan is also not a perfect state in his opinion, at least none of its assemblymen have been found guilty of corruption.
Islamic Renaissance Front’s (IRF) Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa then refuted Hanipa, saying that a perfect state would not need to implement hudud, as it would prefer correcting criminals rather than punishing them.
“We are perhaps not a failed state, but we are close to it … Let us make this country a better place, then we talk about hudud,” added civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan.
Hanipa said Kelantan should be given a chance to try hudud out and dared critics of the controversial law to mount a legal challenge against it in court if they think it is unconstitutional.
“You cannot draft a perfect law. In order to develop the law, there must be a law first … Is it fair when Kelantan hasn’t implemented it yet? This is very premature,” Hanipa said of criticisms levelled at the enactment.
The MP also insisted that PAS has no plans to implement hudud outside Kelantan as long as voters do not give the party the mandate to do so elsewhere.
However, lawyer Abun Sui Anyit disagreed, saying that allowing Kelantan to implement hudud would only open the floodgates to other states that wish to do the same.
“If Kelantan does it, others will follow suit, even Sarawak. That is what we fear,” said Abun, who represented NGO Save Sarawak River.
Hanipa’s admission last night follows a reminder by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday that Malaysia does not have the right institutions in place to implement hudud.
Anwar insisted that there should not be any talk on implementing hudud as long as the judiciary itself remains not independent.
In 1993, the PAS state government passed the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code Enactment (II), allowing it to impose the strict Islamic penal code in the state. But the laws have not been implemented.
PAS is now looking for parliamentary approval to implement hudud. It plans to put forward two private members’ bills in Parliament. One seeks approval for unconventional punishments, some of which are for offences already covered in the Penal Code.The the other seeks to empower Shariah courts to mete out the unconventional punishments.
According to the Shariah Courts (Criminal) Jurisdiction Act 1965, the Islamic court cannot sentence offenders to more than three years in jail or fine them more than RM5,000. It also cannot sentence offenders to be whipped more than six times.