KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Malaysia risks losing its identity as a model of religious moderation and multiracialism if PAS is allowed to introduce its brand of Islamic penal laws, an influential group of retired Malay senior civil servants warned today.
The group dubbed G25 further said the country’s secular constitution would require a fundamental change in order to implement such religious laws, adding that such revision would violate the social pacts that had been agreed upon at the country’s formation.
“A multiracial country with an open economy like Malaysia cannot afford to alter the secular character of its Constitution to allow for the implementation of PAS’ hudud enactment,” the group said in a statement.
“The imposition of PAS’ hudud laws will signify to the world that Malaysia has abandoned the moderate path. We will be seen as a country governed by religious laws which are subjected to the vagaries of interpretation of the ulama who are also fallible human beings.”
Questioning the necessity of hudud in Malaysia, G25 said any law passed after Independence is declared void if it is inconsistent with the Federal Constitution, as governed by its Article 4.
Citing several Islamic scholars, the group also expressed concern that the enforcement of hudud in PAS-led Kelantan would not be in line with Quranic teachings, and problematic due to its lack of modern and relevant interpretation.
G25 claimed that no state has fulfilled the pre-conditions needed to implement hudud as espoused by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the chairman of the World Union of Muslim Scholars: establishing a pious and God-fearing society, meeting the economic needs of the public, providing employment opportunities for all, and ensuring no poverty by closing the income gap.
Citing Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies chief Prof Hashim Kamali, G25 also said Kelantan’s original 1993 hudud bill had failed to reflect Quran’s balanced outlook or contemporary Malaysian society’s social conditions and realities.
“A perusal of the 2015 Hudud Enactment of Kelantan reveals that it has retained the emphasis on punishment rather than repentance and rehabilitation as enjoined in the Quran,” it added.
Last week, the Kelantan state assembly approved the Shariah Criminal Code (II) (1993) 2015 Enactment with 31 votes from PAS lawmakers supported by 12 from Umno.
PAS now plans to put forward two private members’ bills in Parliament to enable Kelantan to enforce hudud ― one will seek approval for the state to legislate punishment for crimes under the Penal Code.
The other seeks to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal) Jurisdiction Act 1965 to enable Islamic courts to mete out punishments like the death penalty for apostasy and amputation of limbs for theft.
PAS has said it only needs a simple majority in Parliament, or 112 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal) Jurisdiction Act.