As Obama arrives, Zaid slams Putrajaya's inability to say hudud is unacceptable

US President Barack Obama walks with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah (right) and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (2nd right) at the arrival ceremony at the Parliament Square in Kuala Lumpur April 26, 2014. — Reuters pi
US President Barack Obama walks with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah (right) and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (2nd right) at the arrival ceremony at the Parliament Square in Kuala Lumpur April 26, 2014. — Reuters pi

KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 — Former Cabinet minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has criticised the Umno-led federal government for trying to showcase a progressive country to visiting US President Barack Obama while refusing to say that hudud law is not acceptable.

Malaysia has been keen to showcase itself as a progressive Muslim nation during the visit of Obama, only the second ever by a US president, but has found itself attacked over rising religious tensions and a flagging human rights record.

“We showcase a nation that is modern and progressive; that a US president cares to visit; yet unable to say that hudud not acceptable,” Zaid said in a posting on Twitter this afternoon.

“That’s the moral compass of our leaders whose dapper suits could not hide a glaring weakness,”

PAS announced plans this month to introduce two private members’ bills in Parliament to allow it to enforce hudud laws in Kelantan.

The move has sparked opposition among its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) allies, DAP and PKR.

But there has also been support for the controversial Islamic laws among those in Umno, causing unease especially among non-Muslims.

Yesterday Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Umno was willing to hear out PAS’s proposal to get lawmakers from the Malay party to back its controversial push to implement hudud in Kelantan.

The Umno president would not expressly state his party’s objection or acceptance of the controversial Islamic penal code but merely said it was open to discussing the matter with its political foes.

“We want to know what is their proposal. If PAS wants to make a proposal then we are willing to look into what PAS wants,” Najib, who is also the prime minister, told reporters after chairing his party’s supreme council meeting at Umno’s headquarters here.

The statement by the Umno president yesterday reflected the party’s refusal so far to make its official position on the controversial matter clear, despite open resistance from its non-Malay allies in Barisan Nasional (BN).

Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed also said yesterday that the party would engage PAS on the matter if the Islamist party should propose a meeting between the two.

In Islamic jurisprudence, hudud covers crimes such as theft, robbery, adultery, rape, sodomy, making unproven accusations of adultery, causing physical hurt, drinking intoxicants, apostasy, and acts contrary to Islamic belief.

PAS announced plans this month to introduce two private members’ bills in Parliament to allow it to enforce hudud in Kelantan.

Previous attempts by PAS to table similar bills have been blocked by the BN-dominated Parliament and have never been voted on.

During these attempts, PAS had been frustrated by BN tactics to prevent any vote by employing a “talking out” tactic where BN MPs have been allowed to speak for an extended period of time to prevent such private members’ bills from even being debated.

The filibuster-style tactic was frequently used when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was still prime minister. 

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