Kelantan passes hudud Bill amendments

Kelantan passes hudud Bill amendments

THE Kelantan assembly yesterday unanimously passed amendments to the Islamic criminal code approving hudud in the state, despite the growing risk of the move splitting Malaysia's already fragile opposition alliance.

The Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS)-led state government tabled the controversial Bill on Wednesday. Hudud is a set of laws and punishments that could allow for flogging and amputation, among other forms of punishment that are illegal under the nation's federal laws. Hudud would apply only to Muslims.

For PAS to implement hudud in the state, it will still need the support of other parties in the Federal Parliament to change the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355).

PAS' decision to push through the amendments to the Syariah Criminal Code in Kelantan has defied the wishes of its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance members - Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and the secular Democratic Action Party (DAP), both of which are against the enforcement of hudud.

The DAP accused the Islamist party of "back-stabbing" it on the issue. The DAP leadership will meet on Monday to review its future in the alliance.

PKR released a statement yesterday condemning PAS and said the party had gone against the consensus made by the alliance.

DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang said the latest incident could be the last straw for the ailing alliance.

"I am very disappointed and it is against what the PR leadership council has decided. PAS is breaking the consensus and this raises the question of commitment to PR's common policy framework," he said.

PAS will now need to find the numbers in the Federal Parliament to amend the Syariah Courts Act to allow the implementation of hudud in Kelantan through a private member's Bill - a Bill or proposed law introduced by a Member of Parliament who is not acting on behalf of the government.

The private member's Bill will need a simple majority of 112 Members of Parliament, out of the 222-member legislature, for it to be passed. There are 136 Muslim MPs in Parliament. PAS has 21 seats; its opposition allies PKR and DAP have 14 and two respectively; and the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), 97.

However, it is very unlikely that the 10 Muslim MPs from Sarawak's Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu will vote in favour, especially with state elections due in 2016.

If all 87 Muslim MPs from the ruling Umno party together with PAS vote for the Bill, they will still be short of four votes.

Analysts believe that the DAP and PKR have been too quick in criticising the Islamist party. They also do not believe PAS has the numbers in Parliament.

"Hudud is not on the mind of the people in the state. It is not a key issue for the ordinary Kelantanese. It could be a matter of pride for PAS and what the grassroots demand," said law professor Azmi Sharom.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said it would be premature for DAP to pull out of the opposition alliance.

"PAS still needs to amend the Federal Constitution and there is no guarantee it will happen. It is two political parties playing politics between each other."

Political analyst Azizuddin Mohd Sani said the "hudud move" would benefit only Umno.

"PAS does not have enough numbers in Parliament and Umno knows this. Umno is going to use this issue and blame DAP and PKR for denying Muslims the right to practise Islam by blocking the implementation of hudud in Kelantan."

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also chairman of BN, is expected to make an official statement today on BN's stand on amendments passed by Kelantan's assembly, a senior member of his coalition told reporters yesterday.

asruls@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 20, 2015.
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