by Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 24, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Hudud will not have an impact on non-Muslims in Malaysia, Umno minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom has said, disputing the repeated warnings by political ally MCA to the Chinese community on the controversial Islamic penal code.
In a written reply to Tan Tee Beng (IND-Nibong Tebal), the minister for Islamic affairs, explained that hudud, which prescribes the amputation of hands for theft, could only be applied to those who come under the jurisdiction of the Syariah court — Muslims.
“Therefore, hudud law will not impact non-Muslims,” he concluded.
MCA has been using the hudud issue to warn the non-Muslim community away from voting for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the coming polls, insisting that the pact’s “dominant” partner PAS would insist on its implementation despite its ties with secular DAP and PKR.
Hudud has remained a sensitive touch point in Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy, which has a 60 per cent Muslim population, with political parties continuing to spar over the subject in the run-up to the 13th general election.
The idea of an Islamic criminal code has been used to either scare the minority Chinese voters, or shore up support among the majority Malay-Muslim community.
The Malay community is seen today as split three-ways among the ruling BN’s mainstay and the country’s biggest Malay party, Umno, the opposition’s Islamist PAS, and PKR, which is seen as an urban liberal party.
MCA had also previously warned that Muslim MPs would unite to amend the Federal Constitution in favour of hudud and the Islamic state if PR takes over, but DAP’s Kit Siang had dismissed it as a “lie” to stop the Chinese community from voting for the opposition.
“As an Islamic nation, the government always respects every law and order prescribed by Allah in the al-Quran and al-Sunnah, including hudud.
“Even so, the government is aware that there are differences of opinion on the matter among Islamic scholars and jurists, over the strategy to implement the hudud,” Jamil (picture) said in his reply.
The minister said the government felt that a comprehensive study must first be conduction by the country’s Islamic scholars and jurists before any form of hudud law could be implemented here.
“This is to ensure that the penal code is fair to all, complies with Allah’s conditions and is in accordance with the country’s legal system,” he said.
Jamil explained that according to the Federal Constitution, Islamic law falls under the jurisdiction of each state and is only applicable to Muslims.
He added that Section 2 of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 limits jail sentences to not more than three years, fines of not more than RM5,000 and not more than six strokes of the rotan.
“Therefore, if hudud is to be implemented in Malaysia, then the Syariah Court would only have jurisdiction over those who practise Islam in accordance with the Federal Constitution,” Jamil Khir said.