by Shaun Tan
Malay Mail Online
April 10, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Support for hudud exists only on the fringes despite the high-profile coverage on the controversy over the Islamic penal law in Malaysia, said Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
Speaking during a summit organised by the Malaysian Students Council of Australia (MASCA) in Brisbane, Australia yesterday, the Umno leader also said his party’s apparent support for hudud was “just politics”.
“Hudud isn’t mainstream. The mainstream is moderation and democracy,” he said.
During discussions on the topic, he said while the Quran uses the word “hudud” 14 times, none of the mentions involves a fixed punishment, but instead appears in relation to marriage, divorce and kindness to orphans.
Saifuddin also condemned last year’s Bible seizure by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department and the attempts to ban non-Muslims from using the word “Allah,” as well as the ruling party’s stance on Islam and society.
“Barisan Nasional has lost the plot,” he said. “We have to rewrite the script (and reclaim) the new middle ground.”
Liew Chin Tong, the DAP MP for Kluang, said secularism is vital because it is the only principle that provides equal freedom for all religions.
He urged Malaysian Muslims to put themselves in the position of the minorities in a country and consider the type of political system they would prefer.
“If I was a Muslim in London or Australia, how would I want that society to treat me?” he asked.
MASCA describes itself as the umbrella body for Malaysian students in Australia and boasts seven chapters — one in each Australian state except for the Northern Territories. The summit yesterday, which drew some 600 attendees, and which is held annually, is their flagship event.
Last month, the Kelantan state assembly passed the amendments to its state Shariah Criminal Code, with support from both PAS and Umno lawmakers.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang submitted two private member’s Bills on the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code, which were discussed in Parliament in the recent sitting, but have since been deferred to the next session in May.
The Bills seek to remove legal roadblocks to the enforcement of the controversial Islamic penal code (hudud) that punishes apostasy with the death penalty and theft with the amputation of limbs.