Thursday, May 08, 2014

Hudud in multi-religious Malaysia

Laws only as good as those who implement them  

The ongoing debate on Hudud is becoming increasing more unhealthy and dangerous. If not stopped it is sure to disrupt the peace and harmony in the country and lead to racial clashes. It is very disturbing that our leaders in led by  the Prime Mnister Datuk Seri Najib  Razak do not have the political will to stop this dangerous trend for reasons only known to them.

Instead of acting firmly against those who stir racial and religious tension with inflammatory remarks regarding race and religion, the authorities seem to be only charging opposition politicians for all sorts of ridiculous reasons under the infamous Sedition Act. It is a clear indication of selective persecution and prosecution of those who are critical of the government. The latest victims of this were the late Karpal Singh and now Teresa Kok both vocally harsh critics of the ruling party. Many other opposition figures are on the waiting list to be prosecuted and convicted on similar charges. 

This is a clear indication that the BN government and the institutions under its control are totally incapable of implementing the laws fairly regardless of political affiliation, race or creed. There is total loss of credibility in their impartiality and the independence of the police and judiciary. The people especially the non-Muslims and opposition members have lost all trust in the present government to safeguard their legitimate interests as it remains totally silent despite the various unjust onslaughts by of extremist groups on issues regarding their race, culture and religion that are very close to their hearts. The latest insult being the seminar at UiTM a forum on Christianity by Muslims and for muslims. Why the need for such closed-door forums exclusively for Muslims in an institution of higher learning in a multi religious country?

The non-Muslims are opposed to the implementation of the hudud laws not because they are bad but because of the implications of it in a multi-religious society. They have seen enough on the biased and inhumane way they are treated in cases of divorce and child custody when one partner converts to Islam and the high-handed manner dead bodies are confiscation due to alleged conversion of the deceased to Islam. Although the existing laws are clear on what to do in such situations but they are ignored even by the law enforcers and even the highest courts.

When the people have no confidence in the present government to implement even the existing civil laws fairly to protect them, how can such a government be trusted with hudud laws that give them absolute power? How can they trust a PM who doesn’t defend his non-Muslim citizens who are being attacked and insulted almost every day by a handful of extremist Malay and Islamic groups?

The non-Muslims and opposition parties in particular DAP do not oppose hudud for the sake of opposing but because they have no trust in the present Malay leadership of BN to defend the rights of the non-Muslims in the country. They turned to PAS for a fairer leadership but are disappointed with their uncompromising stance on the hudud issue, whose leaders, after Tok Guru NIk Aziz, are giving in to pressure from hardliners in their party and instigations from Umno. 

If only PAS, that proposes the hudud can guarantee total impartiality and absolute justice in its implementation, there is no reason why one should oppose hudud. All laws are meant to protect the people, regardless of who they are, against criminals and if hudud can do that effectively and fairly without prejudice whatsoever, why oppose them. The main issue here is whether PAS can guarantee that the non-Muslims rights will be protected at all costs under the hudud laws. After all laws are only as good as the enforcers and the latter are hard to come by.

The nation needs only one set of laws for all citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, as  2 sets of laws will lead to confusion and abuse by those in power. At the present time we don’t need any new laws like the hudud and the people are not ready for such a change yet. The existing laws are adequate and all that is needed is for them to be adhered to strictly and implemented fairly by the government and enforcement agencies. The PM must take a stand to be on the side of the laws of the country and not on the side of those to abuse them against their political opponents and their non-Muslims citizens.

PAS must not be impatient but be realistic as to whether our system is ready for hudud to be implemented fairly to all races. Will those in power and those close to the ruling party be subjected to the same harsh punishment under the hudud or will only the poor ordinary man on the street and those aligned to the opposition be severely punished by amputation and death? As far as we see it, there is no party now in the country that is capable of acting impartially as the more than three decades of racist policies and indoctrination in schools and public institutions have denied fair and impartial mindset of the present generation of Malaysians.It will need an equally long time to undue this mentality.

The hudud issue is a major test for PAS and its allies in Pakatan Pakyat.In the last 2 general elections there has been tremendous goodwill among the people of all races in coming together to support Pakatan regardless of race or which party the candidate belongs. Do the leaders of the PAS,PKR and DAP respect the thousands  of young Malaysians who rose above race and creed to participate in the huge rallies hand in hand shouting “Kami anak Malaysia”.
It is a time to reflect on the aspirations of the people, especially our youth, who wanted change. It is time to reflect on the inherent friendship and comradeship fostered among the various races before 13GE.The people came together to create a new Malaysia but are now disappointed their dreams are being shattered by the very leaders who promised everything under the sun. It is time for the leaders of Pakatan to value these aspirations of the majority of Malaysians and put aside their own differences in ideology and sacrifice a little for the greater good of all.

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