Monday, September 24, 2012

Hudud: Pakatan’s Death Knell By Elviza Michelle

The following view was sent to me by Ms Elviza Michelle who is a lawyer, writer and Blogger. Here is a picture of Elviza.  This article is about the hudud. These views are solely Elviza's and not mine. My comments follow.
Let’s just be honest. Time is nigh to spread the cards of truth on the table and call the conundrum what it really is: a recurring nightmare for secular Muslims and non-Muslims in the country. 

Born a Muslim, I risk being labeled ‘infidel’ by PAS and Taliban-mirrored Islamists of Malaysia for writing on hudud. But that’s a risk I’ll gladly run in the name of democracy and the truth. 

“But why now?” you might ask. 

My annoyance emerged in the face of Nasharuddin and Karpal’s continuous exchange of poisonous barbs over hudud in both the traditional media and online portals.  But it was the recent war of words between Mat Sabu and the widely read Sin Chew Daily that was the final nail in the coffin. Enough is just enough. 

Can you really blame me for believing Sin Chew Daily’s journalist more than I do Mat Sabu? If you were given a choice to believe between a journalist and politician, which one would you pick? I thought so. 

The furor escalated to an unprecedented height when Mat Sabu was quoted by Sin Chew’s journalist as saying that PAS would seek constitutional amendments in Parliament to implement Islamic law if it forms the Federal Government. His subsequent denial the day after sounds hollow and ill-prepared, a mere afterthought he coughed up when he found himself trapped by his own words. 

Sin Chew’s Tay Tian Yan has the sequence of event in earnest: 

Mat Sabu explained, "PAS has decided that it will seek constitutional amendments in Parliament to implement the hudud law once Pakatan takes the helm of the federal administration."

Our reporter called him after the evening edition of Sin Chew Daily hit the street, to reconfirm with him the content of his speech. Mat Sabu offered to change the tone from "decided" to "had the intention" (berhasrat) which our reporter agreed.

As a result, some minor changes appeared on the morning edition of the newspaper: "PAS has the intention of seeking constitutional amendment in the Parliament in order to implement hudud laws once Pakatan takes the helm of the federal administration."

In the meantime, we also interviewed PAS information chief, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, to get him to clarify the party's stand on this issue. His response was consistent with that of Mat Sabu’s and the same was published on the day's edition of Sin Chew Daily.

We have later acquired the official statement of PAS president, Hadi Awang, on August 13, as well as his August 25 statement published on the party's mouthpiece Harakah on the implementation of the hudud law.

We later clarified with PAS Secretary-General Mustafa Ali on the same issue.

Unfortunately, after the report went into print, Mat Sabu denied the following day what he had said, and claimed that Sin Chew Daily had distorted his speech.

It irks me immensely every time politicians say the less-than-intelligent things – ranging from saying UMNO hudud is better than PAS hudud to claiming that non-Muslims should accept hudud, too – in so far as this controversial law still forms the nucleus of political argument in Malaysia. 

Droves of politicians from PAS’s side have been making statements in pushing hudud agenda to the fore. 

The latest was from Kelantan PAS deputy commissioner, Datuk Mohd Nik Amar, “Although only applicable to Muslims, it will be ideal if non-Muslims one day accept hudud and Islamic jurisprudence towards the creation of a just society.” 

Of course, PAS national unity bureau chairman, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, too, refuses to be left out from hudud debate by saying, “Not all Muslims may agree with hudud but I believe the majority of Muslims in the country want to see it implemented after seeing the failure of secular laws in dealing with crime.” 

What Mujahid meant by ‘majority of Muslim in the country’ sounds simply too nebulous to my ears. Will the said majority please stand up and state your stand please?  

The statements from PAS leaders came in defense of Mat Sabu after he was being quoted that PAS would propose constitutional amendments in Parliament to implement Islamic law if it forms the Federal Government.

In retrospect, I am quite relieved that PAS does realise that implementing hudud would be unconstitutional and would be against the spirit of the Federal Constitution. But it ends there as PAS has no intention to let go of its agenda to push for the implementation of hudud. 

Well, dear politicians, do you mind terribly if I shift the light of attention – albeit briefly – away from you and state what the rakyat like me really think? 

The following paragraphs will sound like a broken record. But for the sake of clarity, allow me to put hudud into perspective: 

Hudud or Had (singular) in Arabic means limit or prohibition. The term is phrased to refer to the punishments for six crimes against the right of God, the penalties of which are described in the holy Qur’an and hadith:

Theft - amputation of the hand; illicit sexual relations - death by stoning or one hundred lashes (depending on marital status); accusations of illicit sex - eighty lashes; drinking alcohol - eighty lashes; apostasy - death or banishment; and highway robbery - death. 

These punishments are rarely applied in the Muslim world except in Saudi Arabia and under the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Some Muslim groups in, for example, Nigeria, Sudan, Iran and parts of Pakistan have also attempted to impose mandatory hudud punishments in local courts against Muslim defendants.

Are any of these countries progressive in your book? 

Even ruling parties in Islamic countries like Egypt and Morroco are not too eager in implementing hudud law. As to why PAS is still propagating this draconian criminal system is anyone’s guess. 

I apologize to you, the imaginative few, as it will be a mighty long time before you can see a convicted thief walking around the neighborhood with missing limbs.

Let me explain to you, PAS, why Hudud will not work in a secular and moderate Islamic country. Rest assured that I shall bear in mind your argument that hudud will serve as preventive measure and deterrence for perpetrators of crime. 

Enforcing hudud is unconstitutional (this reason alone should be deterrent enough for PAS. But, alas… )

Hudud – let’s not sugarcoat anything here – is draconian in nature and has no place in modern society. Its implementation and execution would prove to be difficult if not downright impossible in multicultural countries and societies.

Even if you argued that all Muslims should accept hudud, look around you for you will see a plenty of transgression, manipulation and abuse of the same law in nations like Afghasnitan, Pakistan, Sudan and Nigeria. These countries sank deeper in terms of economic and social development. 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' gives a give a good description of Afghanistan’s social landscape under extreme Islamic law – that is if you want to consider my reading list. 

Hudud law if left unattended in the hand of the extremists would oppress women. In Pakistan, one Zafran Bibi was raped, but a Pakistan judge decided it was adultery – the young mother who was nursing her baby behind bars was sentenced to death by stoning. Bowing to public uproar and wide international media coverage, the sentence was subsequently reversed by the appellate court. Now is this what you have in mind, PAS? 

Hudud has never been included in the Pakatan’s Buku Jingga, nor it is it stated in their 2008’s manifesto. PAS unrealistic dream in implementing hudud is what the Malay proverbs says, ‘Seperti anjing menyalak bukit.’ You know what that means. 

The element of deterrence that PAS is looking for by enforcing hudud against criminals can be achieved via other effective forms such as counseling, positive support from the community and government institutions. Besides, haven’t you heard that instilling fear is rarely effective in solving any problem at all? 

Pakatan’s marriage of convenience has proved impotent in finding a consensus to come up with decision on the recent Merdeka theme, let alone on weighty issues like hudud. 

So why do I say that hudud will be the death knell for Pakatan’s coalition? The answer is simple: history.

PAS has never faltered: it has always been steadfast - adamant to the point of being annoying - in wanting to make hudud law a reality if Pakatan ever takes over Putrajaya.

DAP, on the other hand, has been equally steadfast, consistent and adamant in rejecting the ideology. I have never heard Karpal contradict himself when talking about or issuing statements relating to hudud. 

You know what will happen to a coalition without a common and uniform political agenda? They will file for divorce. 

History has proven that DAP and PAS suffer from irreconcilable differences. The previous attempt of DAP and PAS to form an alliance fell asunder ahead of 1999 general election. Barisan Alternatif died an untimely death solely on failure to achieve agreement on hudud. 

Is it a wonder if DAP and PAS calls it quits again this time around? When history repeats itself and you think your vote for them still matters, you need to look at the broader picture once again: it has always been about them, NOT you, dear voters.

My comments : Firstly there is no such thing as the Law of Hudud or Hudud Law in the Quran. Somehow Allah Almighty forgot to mention it so in the Quran.  Therefore for PAS to say that their ideas on hudud represent 'Allah's Laws' has to be established by them.

Secondly Elviza lists six elements of PAS' hudud.  They are :

1. Theft - amputation of the hand; 
2. illicit sexual relations - death by stoning or one hundred lashes (depending on marital status); 
3. accusations of illicit sex - eighty lashes; 
4. drinking alcohol - eighty lashes; 
5. apostasy - death or banishment; and 
6. highway robbery - death. 

Let us make it clear straight away that 

i.    death by stoning for anything 
ii.   punishment for drinking alchohol
iii.  death or banishment for apostasy
iv. death for highway robbery

are just not mentioned in the Quran at all. Hence for a certainty this is not the Hudud Of Allah. I say this because the words 'these are the Hudud of Allah' or 'Tilka hududullah' are found mentioned many times in the Quran. 

But again, somehow, Allah forgot to mention in the Quran the four punishments above that are found in the PAS' version of hudud as the 'Hudud of Allah'.  Isnt this strange?

The so called "amputation" of the hand for stealing can be argued. And to be precise,  in the Quran the whipping of 80 lashes  is reserved specifically for accusations against women only. Men are not covered. And the accusation against women is NOT limited to illicit sex only. It is wide ranging, accusing any chaste woman of indecency can be punished by 80 lashes. For the lack of a better word, the Quran is therefore very sexist here - the women's rights are protected more.

The hudud of PAS of course differs from State to State. The hudud of PAS in Terengganu was different from the hudud of PAS in Kelantan. The hudud of the Taliban may be different also. In the Taliban version, homosexuals are killed by dropping a wall over them. In Iran, homosexuals are killed by dropping them from a high place. When there were no mountain cliffs, they have used a helicopter before. This cannot be 'God's Law'. How can 'one God' have so many versions of "God's laws"?

Even to catch a thief. the hudud differs in its details. Some sects among the Sunnis differ in what amount of theft is punishable by hudud. If someone steals a pisang goreng is it punishable by cutting the hands? What is the value of an item before the judge can order the hands to be cut off? Again the hudud differs among the different sects. 

The Shias say that only some fingers of the right hand should be cut and not the hands at the wrist. 

This is further evidence that it cannot be "God's Law". We would expect that something known as "God's Law" would be perfect and consistent. The hudud of PAS is not perfect and neither is it consistent.  

In cases where the hudud has no provisos, the court can opt for takzir punishments. Takzir punishments are not from Allah either. They are the court's own punishment. Takzir is man made punishment. 

Leadership lessons in Jakarta pave way for 2014 election — Pitan Daslani

SEPT 24 — Joko Widodo’s victory in the Jakarta gubernatorial election has caused many politicians to re-examine their approach in representing the people’s wishes.

The victory of the governor-elect, known as Jokowi, has vindicated a new theory that many of Indonesia’s major political parties actually do not connect with their constituencies.

Although they claim to represent millions of voters, the biggest irony in Indonesia today is that when it comes to electing a new leader, political parties’ aspirations contradict the wants of the people they represent.

This extreme conclusion emerged during the Jakarta gubernatorial election. When the ruling Democratic Party joined forces with the Islam-based United Development Party (PPP), National Mandate Party (PAN), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and Golkar Party to support Fauzi Bowo, the challenger’s camp reacted humbly.

Megawati Sukarnoputri, chairwoman of the Indonesian Democracy Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said that she was “being mobbed by the big players.”

Her candidate, Jokowi, reacted to the establishment of the big coalition by saying that he would “set up a coalition with the people” because he believed that “people power would be enough” to confront the power of the big coalition.

People power 

Based on the result of the first round of voting on July 11, it looked like Fauzi would win the runoff because PKS, PPP and Golkar had joined the ruling party’s coalition and, theoretically, their followers would vote for Fauzi in the runoff.

The coalition did not understand that those who voted for Fauzi during the first round could easily change their minds and go against him in the second round. The politicians did not understand that voters made their choices, not because they believed in the dictates of the political parties, but because they were smart and politically mature enough to use sound rationale and good political logic.

The politicians thought that Jakarta voters were the kind of people who could easily be misled and persuaded to buy into their ethnic and religious slurs.

They were wrong. Most of the voters refused to cast their votes based on religious and ethnic considerations. Even at the polling stations near the homes of Fauzi and his running mate, Nachrowi Ramli, most of the native Betawi voters opted for Jokowi and his running mate, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. Ahok is a Christian of Chinese ethnicity, but his background did not matter to Muslim voters who constitute the majority of Jakarta’s population.

Learning their lesson 

The first lesson that political parties need to learn is that voters are too smart to be fooled. They will abandon political parties that fail to understand what they want.

The most important characteristic of an increasingly prosperous society is that people want change and they want it to happen quickly to ensure justice, transparency, social solidarity and a better life.

The fast expansion of the middle class means that politicians need to redefine their approach to this economically powerful and well-educated segment of society lest they be abandoned. Outdated postures as well as ethnic and religious slurs come as an insult to such a level of society.

The second lesson that needs to be learned is that society wants a new generation of leaders. Old public figures will not “sell” well now because the Jakarta election, as the barometer for Indonesia, has produced young leaders with whom most of the voters, especially young people, associate themselves. Young voters look at Jokowi and Ahok as “one of us.” Jokowi was born in 1961 and Ahok in 1966.

The third lesson politicians must now learn is that today’s Indonesian voters hate bossy, bureaucratic-looking, aristocrat-like public figures running for office.

Such candidates will not be seen as “one of us” by the majority of voters whose new belief in democracy and human rights has torn down the walls that separated the haves from the have-nots. Jokowi’s humble lifestyle was more powerful than anything money could create as a magnet to attract public sympathy.

Instead of giving the people money to support him, it was the people who voluntarily supported Jokowi in many ways. Even in his speech immediately after the announcement of his quick-count victory, Jokowi told supporters that he had nothing to give them right away but would work for the sake of Jakarta’s citizens and make sure that “nobody would be left behind.”

The fourth and most notable lesson from Jokowi’s victory is that money politics did not work here. Voters did not expect money from Jokowi, they only wanted a leader who could introduce change and live among them. So, it is political parties and transactional politicians who are spoiling society with money in order to satisfy their short-term selfish ambitions.

The fifth lesson for political parties comes from the televised gubernatorial candidate debates. Voters don’t like to see officials exhibiting a defensive — as if flawless — posture. At one point during the first debate on JakTV, Jokowi used the phrase, “according to a stupid person like me ... ” when he criticised Fauzi’s transportation policy.

Only a humble leader like Jokowi can do that. Public figures who hail from upper segments of society and who do no mingle with the lower walks of life would avoid using such a phrase because they think it would downgrade their image. That is wrong. Jokowi proved that by expressing such a humble remark, he drew millions of people to his camp with his humility.

A new lesson now is that in politics, arrogance is your biggest enemy and being defensive the quickest way to reveal your dishonesty and lack of self-awareness. Fauzi is actually a great leader, a smart architect who received a doctorate in Germany, specialising in city planning. But in terms of political communication, he failed to impress voters.

So, the sixth lesson politicians need to learn is that the power of a true campaign lies not in your appearance in front of the people’s eyes but in communicating with their hearts.

Ours is a society fraught with hypocrisy. Appearing defensively flawless — the ultimate goal of all the image-building campaigns — is a confirmation of the opposite. People don’t believe in appearances today. They believe in being one’s self, transparent and humble.

A brand new day 

A new awareness is now growing in society that a true leader is one who serves rather than one who seeks to be served. Jokowi knows this very well and puts it into practice.

But we must also acknowledge Fauzi’s political maturity. He called Jokowi right after learning of his defeat and congratulated his challenger. This is the right attitude that must be socialised among political leaders. Objectivity and patriotism in politics as such must be perpetuated in our culture.

The Jakarta election represents a huge political mirror for all the big parties to examine themselves. If they don’t make adjustments, voters will abandon them.

This is a prelude to the presidential election in 2014. — The Jakarta Globe