KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 ― Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir says she will leave Malaysia if hudud law is implemented in the country.
“I cannot live in a country where people want to cut off hands, I’m sorry, or stone people to death,” Marina told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview here.
“I would never live in Saudi Arabia. I don’t want to live in a country where this is official policy,” the prominent social activist added.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has submitted a private member’s bill to Parliament in a bid to remove the legal obstacles that prevent the implementation of the Islamic penal code in Kelantan.
Hadi said Tuesday that the Kelantan state government run by the Islamist opposition party will meet with the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government to discuss plans to implement hudud in the state. BN has yet to state its official stand on hudud.
Critics of hudud have lambasted the strict Islamic criminal law, which punishes theft with amputation of limbs, as well as apostasy and adultery with death by stoning, as unconstitutional in secular Malaysia.
Marina, who is the eldest child of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, related an incident where she attended the United Nations women’s conference in Beijing in 1995 and Iranian women living in exile in the US had opposed a session about including religion in feminism.
She said the Iranian women, who were middle-class elites living in New York, had sounded bitter and were aggressive about keeping religion out of everything, noting that their counterparts had stayed back in Iran and fought from within, when women’s rights were rolled back after Iran became an Islamic state following the 1979 revolution.
“I look at these women and thought ― I never want to be like that. I never want to be a bitter exile. So I always thought okay lah ― I will stay and fight,” said Marina.
She said, however, that she would emigrate if hudud were to be implemented.
The activist, who speaks out about women’s rights and freedom of speech among other issues, said her strength to continue fighting is instinctive as she was brought up to be honest and considerate of others.
“It's natural to me, if I see something wrong, to say something, or to do something,” said Marina.
“It’s a form of worship. It’s how I act out my life as a Muslim. If you say it’s a way of life, it’s not just about rituals. It’s acted out by trying to do good, to be charitable and to ensure justice,” she added.