Pushing for 'God's law' in Kelantan

Pushing for 'God's law' in Kelantan
Ahmad (left) is determined to do what his predecessor Nik Aziz (right) had failed to in implementing hudud law.

The PAS plan to implement hudud law in Kelantan is going full steam ahead despite opposition from its political partners and critics outside the state.

IT has been described as the PAS "highway to heaven".

Or, at least, that is how journalists in Kota Baru refer to the Islamist party's plan to implement hudud law in Kelantan.

It is PAS' most ambitious policy since coming to power in 1990. Hudud law was one of its election promises and it is about to become a reality for the party after 23 years in power.

It has also become the party's most controversial move in years.

The PAS "highway to heaven" will see the party driving into uncharted territory. But PAS leaders are undaunted because they believe they are ready to implement it. Moreover, they say it is wajib or obligatory on them as Muslims to do it.

Up till early this year, many people especially PAS' partners in Pakatan Rakyat did not believe that the party was serious about it. They thought it was the Kelantan government's usual "all talk and little action".

But it has finally sunk in and the only question is whether PAS can get the support in Parliament to pass two Private Members' Bills that are needed for the law to be applied.

PAS leaders seem confident that the Muslim MPs will do their religious duty. There are 130 Muslim MPs from both sides of the divide and the bills only require a simple majority of 112 votes.

Umno MPs from Kelantan, including International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, have indicated support for the Bills.

"PAS has been talking about hudud since 1990, they blamed us for blocking them. Let them go ahead," said Kok Lanas assemblyman Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad.

But Minister for Parliament Affairs Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the Muslim MPs in Barisan Nasional are still waiting for more information.

"We will take the cue from the Prime Minister. Many Muslim MPs feel that hudud is only applicable when the nation is prosperous and at peace and when the people genuinely understand what it is all about," said Shahidan who is known as "the governor" among Barisan MPs.

No one from PAS is willing to say when the Bills will reach Parliament.

PAS MP for Kota Baru Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, who is looking into the implementation issues of the law, said the Bills are "90 per cent ready" to be tabled.

The first Bill is to provide wider powers to syariah court judges to decide on punishment under the Syariah Penal Code. The second Bill is to enable federal authorities like the police and the prisons department, to enforce hudud.

Alwi had needled Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob during a state assembly sitting about the issue, causing the usually placid politician to jump to his feet and pledge: "I will make sure I implement it by 2015."

Ahmad has also famously declared that he will resign if he fails. That is how serious he is about the whole thing.

Despite all the noise from outside Kelantan, there is no denying that the average Kelantanese has no objection to life under hudud.

Former Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman is one of them. He is from Kelantan and still has a home on the outskirts of Kota Baru.

"I am as keen as the next person. I don't see why it cannot be done. Hudud has been implemented in Acheh even though it is not done in the rest of Indonesia," said Abdul Rashid.

But he admits that most Kelantanese do not really know what to expect.

"When I ask them they say that, of course, it must be done. They say they have waited so long. But when I ask what it actually means, they give me that awkward look," he said.

Kelantan is 95 per cent Muslim and 23 years of uninterrupted PAS rule in Kelantan has been a sort of psychological preparation for this.

PAS leaders have been conditioning the people towards an Islamic state from Day One. This is a party that promises their supporters a place in heaven.

In the general election, they said God instructed them to take over Putrajaya from Barisan. Then again, this is the same party where a local Kelantan politician had said that the dengue problem in the state was because Umno opposes hudud.

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