Monday, October 3, 2011

Rantings over the great hudud debate

This writer has vehemently argued that for as long as there are leaders in the opposition parties who are bent on saying that this Federal Constitution is secular or Islamic and that the Islamic Penal Code is unconstitutional, Pakatan Rakyat would forever be subjected to this unending acrimonious debate.

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, The Malaysian Insider

Much as I hate this acrimonious debate on hudud, especially with the general election looming ever so close, I no longer believe that delaying it is going to do any good to anyone either. Not to Non-Muslims, Muslims and much less to Islam.

Conventional wisdom would have it that deferring the debate and focusing on more major issues of a dysfunctional democracy such as gross mismanagement of the nation’s wealth and finances, endemic corruption, unbridled crony capitalism, gross income inequality would be in order.

Accordingly, this writer was earliest in reprimanding everyone, especially the PAS and other Pakatan leaders. His frantic attempt, as usual, fell on deaf ears. In no time, Pakatan leaders, nay the entire nation, are embroiled in the debate.

Once again, the “ugly” head of hudud, or such as it were described by many a less-than-friendly commentator, is “splitting” the nation, as if the nation were a one united country prior to the appearance of hudud on the national debate.

This writer would want to believe that, as a nation, we are only united in one cause, i.e. to make this beloved nation of ours, a better place for everyone.

So why should PAS and Pakatan take this issue upfront now?

For obvious reasons.

Allow it to be ventilated; the rantings, the ramblings and all the concerns and anxiety, perhaps misunderstandings. Let it out. Say what you really think of it. Perhaps in the free enterprise of ideas, it can no longer be suppressed anyway.

In the course of this national debate, the conversation has at least brought one unknown fact to the fore i.e. that the Islamic Penal Code is only enforceable on Muslims.

As to how it would be given an iron-clad assurance, as demanded by the Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan, who seems friendly with Tok Guru, it has yet to be meticulously articulated.

There are some who proposed that PAS conduct a referendum to assess and determine the level of support of the Kelantanese on the implementation of the enactment, now that Tok Guru’s chief ministership has spanned well over 20 years.

The hudud debate has also been instrumental in assessing that there are many non-Muslims who no longer have any fear of hudud, while many more continue to feel terrorised by the mere mention of the word. It has sadly become a rather bad word.

Debate, discourse and the many good writings of scholars and columnists provide useful insights to this once-very-misunderstood-transcendental Law of God, grossly misrepresented and demonised as barbaric and uncivilised.

For once, this writer noted the earnestness of many who wish to understand the wisdom of Islamic jurisprudence beyond its purely punitive dimension. That is both reassuring and informative.

For all these “happenings”, I retrospectively thought that this is not that bad after all. Yes, if all sensitive issues of religion and race get to be swept under the carpet, this nation would never be “enlightened”.

Indeed, that would be the greatest assault on Reason! Only Perkasa and right-winged religious and racial bigots thrive in the ambience of fear, ignorance and under-siege kind of mentality.

More strategically though, imagine if this polemical topic is to come any closer to the finishing line or during the raging campaign period of the 13th general election.

God forbid, Pakatan would arguably be dead meat. The “master strategist” Tun M has his way of putting a wedge between the Pakatan coalition partners. Already we have witnessed Pakatan leaders all too willing to cross swords openly and the BN-controlled media ever so ready to fan it up.

We, obliviously perhaps, went headlong into the pit in a self-destruct mode. For days, the issue occupied front page of The Star, NST, Utusan, et al; Hudud Feud, Hadi speaks up etc. We have seen enough of these shooting at each other episodes.

Fast forward, we thank God that Pakatan survived the nerve-racking hudud debate in a three-hour closed-door meeting. This writer, who was also a secretariat member of the Barisan Alternatif (BA), a forerunner of the PR, witnessed its demise after PAS launched the Islamic Document.

This grim reminder was very much in our minds in those critical moments during the hudud debate.

Admittedly, this writer would have no qualms revealing the fact that “Islamic state” and “hudud” are the Achilles’ Heel of the opposition front; before, in the BA, now, in PR and indeed to eternity.

This writer has vehemently argued that for as long as there are leaders in the opposition parties who are bent on saying that this Federal Constitution is secular or Islamic and that the Islamic Penal Code is unconstitutional, Pakatan Rakyat would forever be subjected to this unending acrimonious debate.

Pakatan’s strategic trajectory to Putrajaya

Pakatan has again reasserted its Common Policy Framework (CPF) and of its policy advocacy as spelt out in Buku Jingga or the “Orange Book.” Pakatan has again categorically announced its undivided commitment to the Federal Constitution, namely as highlighted by the provisions of Articles 3, 152 and 153 and its resolute vision of bringing about a New Malaysia.

In the context of the hudud debate, PAS and many Muslim constituencies would have hoped for a better treatment and recognition of the work of implementing the Islamic Penal Code — namely the Enakmen Jenayah Syariah 2 (1993), which actually predated the existence of Pakatan Rakyat or in fact the BA. In brief, they wanted it endorsed by the Pakatan presidential council.

That was not to be the case, as collectively decided by the Pakatan presidential council. Implementation of the Islamic Penal Code is not part of the CPF. The hudud debate has revolved around its constitutionality as posited by some legally trained leaders, while others were arguing from the perspectives of politics and strategy, which also invariably concluded that the agenda be best addressed after the 13th general election.

The meeting finally acknowledged and respected the difference amongst parties in Pakatan Rakyat as a democratic alliance particularly with respect to PAS’s position on the implementation of syariah law.

Difficult though it may seem for PAS but the DAP would similarly be in a rancorous position should Pakatan allow PAS to take the hudud law on board.

PAS would have to suffer the mockery of the Umno media for failing to convince her Pakatan partners to support its implementation in Kelantan. It would reinforce the notion of PAS being dictated to or saddled by the DAP.


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