Hudud in Malaysia – Dyana Sofya

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Dyana Sofya

Dyana Sofya suffers from dysania and is using her superpowers to pen down her thoughts late into the night. Political Secretary to Lim Kit Siang by day and she tweets from @dyanasmd.

My article this week!

“With such flawed attitude and inconsistency shown by the arbiters of law and justice, how can we possibly expect the same handlers to uphold and enforce enactments based on divine law?”

“How do we expect flawed handlers of the system to implement hudud justly?

Firstly, let us review our law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. To say that these institutions suffer an integrity and credibility deficit is to put it mildly. The recent guilty verdict against Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in what is almost universally regarded as a politically motivated case has incurred the ire of the international community including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, all of whom have expressed their disappointment in the decision. Alas, if our country could once proudly boast of a respectable and independent judiciary, those days are now long gone.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, we now have a Twitter-happy Inspector-General of Police (IGP) who appears to be obsessed with monitoring the social media activities and movements of Pakatan Rakyat leaders and NGO activists.

Who can forget how he swiftly pounced upon PJ Utara MP Tony Pua for his “royal my foot” tweet, an act that revealed either overzealousness or a lack of English proficiency. Either way, it does not instil much confidence.”

MARCH 28 — The Kelantan State Assembly passed the Shariah Criminal Code (II) 1993 (Amendment 2015) on March 19, 2015. Since then, headlines and discussions all over the country have been dominated by this issue.

Politicians are at each other’s throats while many formerly friendly people have started quarrelling with each other, as evident by the many debates going on in the social media, my Facebook page included.

As one would expect, I too have been asked many times about my stand on the matter. And each time, I have given the same answer. Clearly from the response so far from both sides of the divide, this is an impossible task, considering that even BN component parties and individual Umno leaders have made their opposition to the laws clear.

All the same, there are also other factors to consider before hudud can even be considered for implementation.

How do we expect flawed handlers of the system to implement hudud justly?

Firstly, let us review our law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. To say that these institutions suffer an integrity and credibility deficit is to put it mildly. The recent guilty verdict against Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in what is almost universally regarded as a politically motivated case has incurred the ire of the international community including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, all of whom have expressed their disappointment in the decision. Alas, if our country could once proudly boast of a respectable and independent judiciary, those days are now long gone.

Meanwhile, custodial death numbers continue to rise and with arbitrary arrests of oppositions leaders and innocent protesters taking place almost on a daily basis, our police force has come under serious public scrutiny.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, we now have a Twitter-happy Inspector-General of Police (IGP) who appears to be obsessed with monitoring the social media activities and movements of Pakatan Rakyat leaders and NGO activists.

Who can forget how he swiftly pounced upon PJ Utara MP Tony Pua for his “royal my foot” tweet, an act that revealed either overzealousness or a lack of English proficiency. Either way, it does not instil much confidence.

As distressing as it is to have our nation’s top cop acting like a one-man social media vigilante, it is more disconcerting to note that he does not appear to be as quick to act when threats are made to those who may be deemed anti-establishment. While the IGP responded to Tony Pua with almost lightning speed, he sure took his time to react to the repulsive threats made by social media users to rape, kill and burn BFM presenter Aisyah Tajuddin, and even then only after prodding by DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang.

With such flawed attitude and inconsistency shown by the arbiters of law and justice, how can we possibly expect the same handlers to uphold and enforce enactments based on divine law?

If there’s one truism in life, it is that humans are reliably fallible and more often than not driven by vested interests. What guarantees would there be to ensure laws such as hudud do not result in further injustice, when our institutions have shown clearly suspect behaviour?

It is obvious that our priority should be focused on overhauling our public institutions to ensure that justice and rule of law are delivered accordingly. Before the system is fixed, we should not even think about implementing shariah criminal law.

The enactment does not solve existing problems

In October last year, the Kelantan state government tabled the 2015 budget with a deficit of RM70.69 million. Kelantan has actually operated on a budget deficit for many years now due to its inability to diversify its revenue. How would the Shariah Criminal Code enactment help increase the state government’s coffers?

Kelantan also has the second highest HIV and AIDS cases in the country according to the Malaysian AIDS foundation. In response, Pasir Mas MP Nik Abduh was quoted as having blamed Thailand for the problem. How would the enactment solve this problem?

According to a UNICEF report in 2013, Kelantan has one of the highest numbers of poor and undernourished children, with 15 per cent living in poverty, a number that has doubled since 2010.

UNICEF has called for urgent protective measures to address this issue, together with the child mortality rate that has now hit 12.2 per cent. This means that the risk of a child in Kelantan dying before reaching the age of five is twice that of a child born in Kuala Lumpur. Would the enactment help solve this problem?

One of the worst floods in recent Malaysian history took place at the end of last year. According to some reports, one of the causes was a poverty reduction project called Ladang Rakyat, which involved converting 70,000 hectares of land into plantations.

According to forestry expert Lim Teck Wyn, the state government has, in the last 10 years, defied the advice of the Forestry Department by clearing permanent forest reserves and planting vegetation and latex timber clone trees. Even the Auditor-General has criticised the Ladang Rakyat project for encroaching onto Orang Asli customary land and noted the community’s concerns.

I think it is clear that the Kelantan state government has many more pressing matters to address. If the Kelantan state government really wants to cultivate a true Muslim society that adheres to justice, that creates economic opportunities for the people, that eradicates poverty and dignifies humanity, then it should start by getting its act together and ensuring delivery of better governance and public policy for the people of Kelantan. Before they manage to do any of that, they have no business trying to implement their own criminal law.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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