SABAK BERNAM, June 6 — Both Malays and ethnic Indians polled in an informal survey during the Sungai Besar by-election have expressed their support for the implementation of hudud.
Malay Mail Online approached 10 voters — five Malays, two ethnic Indians, and three ethnic Chinese — in the semi-rural Selangor parliamentary constituency yesterday as campaigning kicked off and asked them among other questions: “Is hudud suitable in Malaysia?”
All of the Malay and Indian participants agreed with the enforcement of the Islamic penal code and with the strengthening of Shariah law in the multiracial country, with the Indian respondents mostly saying that they were not affected by hudud and hence, saw no reason why it should not be approved.
The three Chinese respondents, however, strongly objected to hudud and to the strengthening of Shariah legislation, saying there was no reason to have a second set of laws to punish criminals.
One of the Malay respondents — 32-year-old clerk Nuraishya Shuhaimi — said it was necessary to strengthen Shariah legislation to reduce criminal activities among Muslims.
“I don’t see the reason why it should not be implemented. You do wrong, you should face the punishment the Islamic way.
“If you ask me, I think hudud should also be implemented to reduce the overall crime activities involving Malay Muslims,” she told Malay Mail Online.
The Malay Mail Online survey among six men and four women from all walks of life at the Sabak Bernam coastal town here comes amid heated debate over PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 that seeks to enhance the Shariah courts’ punitive power.
Based on the electoral roll from the 2013 general elections, the Sungai Besar federal constituency has 42,837 voters comprising about 67 per cent Malays, about 31 per cent Chinese, and about 2 per cent Indians.
Sungai Besar constituents are mostly fishermen, farmers and plantation workers.
A brief check showed that while the Malays and Chinese here were generally knowledgeable about national issues, the Indian community appeared to be not as well informed, particularly on the hudud issue.
Barisan Nasional (BN) non-Muslim component parties, and even Sarawak ruling party Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) headed by Tan Sri Adenan Satem, who is Muslim, have all objected to Hadi’s Bill, asserting that it is an attempt to introduce hudud in Malaysia.
Businessman Mohd Arshaf Jaafar, 54, questioned what was “so wrong” about introducing the Islamic penal code in the country.
“When Muslims are agreeing to this, why are others kicking up a fuss?” Mohd Arshaf told Malay Mail Online.
He said Hadi’s Bill was merely aimed at strengthening Shariah law and not to enforce hudud just yet, echoing the PAS president’s claims.
Hindu shopkeeper S. Saravanan said the implementation of hudud or the move to strengthen Shariah laws could be done as long as it did not affect non-Muslims.
“I don’t mind if the government wants to introduce hudud or to strengthen Islamic laws — I will support the move as long as non-Muslims are free from these laws,” the 21-year-old odd job worker told Malay Mail Online.
Buddhist businessman Ong Chee Wei, 44, however objected strongly to the empowering of Islamic laws and to the implementation of hudud.
He said Hadi’s Bill would pave the way for hudud, a harsh law that punishes crimes like theft and adultery with amputation of limb and death by stoning.
“He (Hadi) has always spoken about hudud and now, he claims the Bill is only to strengthen the (Islamic) law, but I foresee this as baby steps to implementing hudud,” Ong said.
While the law purportedly is not aimed at non-Muslims, Ong predicted that hudud, should it be enforced, will eventually cover the ethnic Chinese and Indians.
“There are so many better things to do. Why talk about hudud? Look at the roads in Sungai Besar...they are horrible. Solve these problems first before talking about anything else,” he said.
All eyes are on how PAS candidate Dr Abdul Rani Osman will tackle the issue among the Chinese who make up almost one-third of the Sungai Besar electorate ahead of polling on June 18. He is contesting against BN’s Budiman Mohd Zohdi and Parti Amanah Negara’s Azhar Shukur.