KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — The Kelantan government’s plan to allocate RM1 million to study Qatar’s hudud laws confirmed claims that PAS had intended to use Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill as a pretext to implement the Islamic penal law there, Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders argued.
The leaders said the fact that the state’s Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah was quoted openly admitting the state government’s preparation for hudud is proof that the Islamist party had deceived the public when it said the Bill was only meant to empower the Shariah Courts.
“It just shows that PAS is a party that cannot be trusted,” MCA publicity spokesman Datuk Seri Li Tian Ker told Malay Mail.
“It simply reveals that they are just politicians that operates in camouflage and masks and the Bill was all just political play.
“It’s not a credible party. They seemed to have no qualms about giving misleading statements and not speaking the truth,” Ti added.
Malay daily Sinar Harian ran a report on January 3 quoting Mohd Amar as saying that the Kelantan PAS government will study ways of adopting Qatar’s implementation of hudud, including amputation, whipping and stoning for some offences.
Just last week, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yaakob was quoted by the same daily saying the state government is still committed to implement hudud, during an event called Hududullah Day in Kota Baru meant to promote the Islamic penal law.
Leaders from both PAS and rival Umno from ruling coalition BN had repeatedly insisted last year that Hadi’s Bill that seeks to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355, is not a backdoor to implement hudud, even as legal experts and academic have argued otherwise.
MIC youth chief Datuk Sivarrajh Chandran said leaders from BN component parties were also made to understand that Hadi’s Bill was only limited to proposals to increase the Shariah courts’ sentencing limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes, among others.
Taking cue from Umno, which had at various instants explicitly voiced its backing for the proposed amendments, MIC and MCA eventually agreed to the idea after several internal briefings were held to convince them that changes to Act 355 would not pave way for hudud, Sivarrajh noted.
“As far as I know RUU355 is just an amendment to increase the punishment and penalties for existence punishable offences under Shariah law,” the MIC leader said in a text response to Malay Mail, using the Malay initials for the Bill.
“That is what we were briefed about during the RUU355 fiasco during our BN Youth council meeting. This is new and contradicts what we have been told.
“As we should all know Malaysia is a multiracial country and we need world economies to be optimistic about our country for them to invest and to be in the ecosystem,” the MIC leader added.
Some experts believed the prolonged controversy that built around Hadi’s Bill gave PAS significant political mileage as the party succeeded in portraying minor opposition against its plan to impose hudud as an attack against Islam, although a large number of progressive Muslims have also spoken out against it.
This means it would be in the interest of PAS to continue playing up the hudud polemic in the build up towards the 14th general election, which pundits predict will be called in the first half of this year.
Gerakan youth chief Tan Keng Liang said PAS’ incongruous position on hudud should send a clear warning to voters that the Islamists were not an outfit to be trusted.
“This is something for the voters to reflect on GE14,” the senator told Malay Mail in a text response.
PAS did not respond to Malay Mail’s request for comments.
Kelantan had already passed amendments to a Shariah enactment that would allow hudud punishments in 2016, but the state government faces legal hindrance to enforce the law since criminal punishments fall under federal laws.
Last year the state became the first to introduce public caning as punishment for minor Shariah offences amid protest from rights groups, including the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, which called the penalty degrading and inhumane.