Answering Jeyakumar’s questions on hudud


June 6, 2016

Answering Jeyakumar’s questions on hudud 

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

“It’s a universal law – intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”

– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I have been reading the commentaries and observing the antics of our elected representatives about the latest provocation by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang on the manufactured controversy of the tabling of the Hudud Bill.

Hadi the Mad Mullah

As expected, the controversy has generated the required outrage among Pakatan partisans and the rhetoric has neatly followed a pre-arranged script that UMNO believes would detract from the very real problems that plague this nation.

Hudud, in any form, would just be the cherry on the sundae of the fascist agenda that this regime is executing in terms of its security policies meant to stifle dissent and sustain hegemony.

The fact that the opposition establishment is suffering from self-inflicted political wounds and myopic in its political agenda not only helps the deterioration of this country but also gives the UMNO state breathing room to regroup and advance its agenda.

Therefore, it was a pleasure reading the piece on the hudud controversy by Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM). As usual, the good doctor clearly articulated his views on the supposed controversy and with a level-headedness unsuited to the cut-throat take-no-prisoners world of politics, and made suggestions on how to deal with the issue. He did the same with the Lynas controversy, a sane voice in the midst of lunacy and political opportunism but as usual, his pleas fell on deaf ears.

The honourable  MP from Sungai Siput did raise some pertinent questions in his piece that I believe deserve answers or, at the very least, a public answer on behalf of Malaysians who may have the same perspective as me on this issue.

Jeyakumar’s analysis of the political motives of UMNO and the opposition are spot on and there really is nothing to discuss. However, the MP raises interesting questions that are fodder for a public debate.

Readers should be aware that PAS grassroots members who have worked with Jeyakumar have told me that the good doctor is someone who truly cares about Malaysians without regard for their race or religion. This particular politician is someone who should be emulated and it is to our detriment that few of our elected representatives are cut from the same cloth.

My answers here are not to be construed as an attack on the good doctor’s article but rather as a launching pad for some of my own beliefs.

Jeyakumar (photo) said, “We should not be afraid to discuss religious issues, but should take extra care to be respectful of the beliefs of others. This implies a certain acceptance of diversity.”

The problem with a statement like this is that the only definition of Islam that matters in this country is how UMNO defines it and we get an idea of how this Umno regime defines Islam with this quote from Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, the deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs:

“It’s time for the allowances of imams, religious teachers and staff throughout Malaysia to be reviewed for an increase (this year alone, the allocation of allowances for imams and religious teachers amounted close to RM500 million), seeing that their responsibility in safeguarding Islam is even more challenging today with plenty of extremist ideologies that are starting to take root, such as IS, the liberalism ideology and pluralism, including the LGBTs who loosen and degrade religion.”

What does this mean? Well, it means firstly, that this regime does not accept diversity as an acceptable form of compromise in a diverse social, political and religious polity, and secondly, that people who do believe in certain fundamental rights, should not accept intolerant religious views as an example of “diversity”.

Do non-Muslims have a right to object to the way in which Muslims choose to practise their religion?

Herein lays the problem. The question sets up an ‘us versus them’ dialectic, of non-Muslims versus Muslims. Nobody has a right to tell anyone how to practise his or her religion including the state whose religious laws (as Jeyakumar acknowledges) has far-reaching consequences for all the country’s citizens.

When we object to certain practices of the state which we deem immoral or corrupt, we do so as citizens of the country. The same principle applies to certain religious practices. We speak for those who cannot, we support those who have been unfairly targeted and who have no choice as to whether they accept or reject religious dogma as defined by the state.

Across the world, in regimes which actively oppose secularism, the agenda is to separate communities either by religion or race and the means by which they do this is through legislation. If communities cannot come together to oppose injustice or prejudice, merely because such are defined as religious imperatives, there can be no hope for change.

Can we tell Muslims how to practise their religion?

Why not? Muslim regimes have no problem defining the Other’s religion. In this country, there are numerous examples of how Muslims dictate how non-Muslims should practise their religion. The problem here is that freedom of expression and speech is selectively practised. As the good doctor illustrated, there are diverse views on Islam in this country.

Islamic perspectives could change and evolve through interaction with other perspectives. Christianity and Judaism are examples of the Abrahamic faiths which have evolved through interactions with other religious and secular points of views. This is the reason why certain Muslim regimes are deathly afraid that their dogma would be rejected if there is a free exchange of ideas.

But the problem here is not non-Muslims telling Muslims how to practise their religion. It is the state telling Muslims how to practise their religion. It is the state rejecting diversity in the Muslim Malaysian experience and non-Muslims are caught in the crossfire.

Do we not believe that each religious community has the right to practise their religion freely?

I, for one, believe that each community has a right to practise their religion freely without interference from the state. I believe that the state should not impose its religious dogma on any of its citizen even indirectly. I believe that a citizen should define his or her religious beliefs for themselves and as long as it does not impinge on the rights of others, should escape sanction from the state. In fact, I believe that the state should have no say in the religious beliefs of its citizens, much less demand billions of tax ringgit to enforce state-sanctioned dogma.

Don’t we recognise that the entire Islamic world is struggling to define what it means to be true to their faith as Muslims in the 21st century? Do we expect Muslim Malaysians to be unaffected by the ongoing debate/battle?

I recognise (as do many other Malaysians, including Muslims) that Islam in this country is affected by the petrodollars of the Saudi regime, as evidenced by the so-called donation to our current Prime Minister for defending Islam. I recognise that there is a deliberate effort by the House of Saud and its tributaries to silence the diversity in Islam. I recognise that the religious schisms within Islam affect minority Islamic brethren the world over and that, being true to their faiths, they are being hampered by the stratagems from palaces in Saudi Arabia.

I also believe that forming strategic alliances with Islamic parties does no good for the idea of democracy in any country in the long term. I believe that political grandstanding by certain political parties in this country, in lieu of concrete principles, is why Islam has dominated the discourse in an adverse way.

Lastly, I know many people would not agree with me for various political or pragmatic reasons and while I have rambled on, my stand is exactly the position of PSM. Here is its message on religion on its website:

“PSM berpendirian hak kepercayaan beragama atau tidak adalah hak individu dan mesti dihormati. Ia adalah hubungan peribadi antara manusia dan kepercayaan mereka. Ia tidak boleh dipaksakan melalui undang-undang.”


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

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10 thoughts on “Answering Jeyakumar’s questions on hudud

  1. A well considered piece, Sdr Thataparan.

    I have nothing to add except that the Legislature must never devolve into tribalism, when discussing religious “Laws”. They are elected to uphold the Constitution and make minor adjustments in secular conduct of government policies – not wholesale disruption of the Judicial process, in the name of any Religion however ‘Superior’.

    I was recently asked by a lap-mongrel top chief as to what a ‘measured’ response would be, politically in response to Jibros rank political expediency – carried out by the Butch minister..

    My response is that they should leave BN to the Real Dogs (not my genus..), should the tabling of Hudud Hadi’s Passion proceed. Otherwise, they will be a party to the further subjugation of the Malays – whom despite their perceived ‘Entitlement’ are as ‘Enlightened’ as glow-worms and as free as dogs returning to their own vomit. A majority of them, at least. He agreed.

    God’s Law is Simple: The Golden Rule, stated in many ways in All religions. All of us are violators, whether to a minor or major degree. We answer to Him and to Him alone, if we are believers. Circumcise the Heart, not the Flesh, for the former is divine but the latter, profane. Rituals are another matter.

    So, let Secular Laws rule the General Polity and God’s Laws rule the individual’s heart, soul and conscience.

    The ‘Sanctuary’ of the Parliament is at stake.

    I remind all the Hypocritical Head Hunters, Falsely Pious, Murderers, Child Molesters, Money Launderers, Thieves and Limb Choppers who inhabit the ‘Corridors of Power’ of William Wordsworth words (The Prelude):
    “I had melancholy thoughts..,
    a strangeness in my mind,
    A feeling that I was not for that hour,
    Not for that place.”

  2. Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, the deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs…
    @“It’s time for the allowances of imams (et al)… throughout Malaysia to be reviewed for an increase… seeing that their responsibility in safeguarding Islam is even more challenging today with plenty of extremist ideologies that are starting to take root, such as IS, the liberalism ideology and pluralism, including the LGBTs who loosen and degrade religion.”

    The Deputy Minister’s reasons for increasing the imams allowances made me ROTFL.

  3. > I, for one, believe that each community has a right to practise their religion freely without interference from the state.

    Cmdr, I would agree with the above, and go further that the state should not interfere with the implementation of Hudud, if that is the wish of the people of the State. My liberal (tainted by Evangelical Christianity) ideal would not be compromised because one opposes an ideal that opposes liberal ideal.

    The state itself should not interfere with the people’s wish on how the state should be run. If Hudud is the wish of the people, so be it. If we are a true democracy, the State should reflect the wish of the people.

    It this is the case, we should respect the Constitution in delegating ‘To Hudud or not to Hudud’ to a state-by-state decision. Mobility within States (at least for West Malaysia) is quite easy. People can move around peacefully. I just pray my God would leave some place for a few to stay put and lead a peaceful quiet life.

  4. Someone rightly says somewhere in this Blog. The inanity of the Hudud, and the ambition to INCREASE the Penalties further and higher contravenes Article 8 of the Constitution . It provides for Equal punishment for everybody, Muslims & Non-Muslims alike.

    IF there’s a theft or robbery of Chicken by a few blokes, the non-Muslim in the gang , gets a few months Imprisonment at the most , BUT the Muslim bloke gets his Limbs chopped of…….?

    Yes…..real smart goons these promulgators are ? They have no other obsession except to satisfy the ego for power ….In effect , they are burdened deep down of their HATE on themselves…….

  5. If a policeman, whose sacrosanct duty is to uphold the law, could be ordered or bribed to commit cold blooded murder on a purportedly pregnant woman and after conviction appeared on video with seemingly sincere piety, what is there to prevent or safeguard Muslims who are political opponents of the powers that be or controllers of prosecurial powers against false accusations of Hudud crimes?

    Therein lies an effective political weapon. Just the mere threat to use such a weapon is enough.

  6. Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, the deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs…
    @“It’s time for the allowances of imams (et al)… throughout Malaysia to be reviewed for an increase… seeing that their responsibility in safeguarding Islam is even more challenging today with plenty of extremist ideologies that are starting to take root, such as IS, the liberalism ideology and pluralism, including the LGBTs who loosen and degrade religion.”

    He may have forgotten to add that MORE MONEY MEANS MORE POWER MEANS MORE POWER and so on. Where does it end?

    Every time there is an increase in remuneration packages of civil servants the political leaders normally say;
    IT IS HOPED THAT MORE MONEY WILL ENCOURAGE THEM TO PERFORM BETTER
    but sadly this has been a HOPE IN VAIN in the past as there appears to be little improvement in their performance after every increase in salaries over the past three decades though paper qualifications may have gone up,

  7. Nabi Isa was quoted as saying “let whosoever who had not sinned cast the first stone” referring to one who was accused of being a harlot brought to him to pronounce judgement. when we are being told that the Syariah laws are only applicable to Muslims, is it fair that our Muslim brothers and sisters have to come under another set of laws and enhanced punishments. Laws should be corrective and not punitive. Look at what is happening with those in fear of punishment due to having a child outside marriage – abort or discard the baby Think of the torment and suffering inflicted on Indra Gandhi et El. MCA is helping to get elected 2 BN candidates who will eventually follow Najib to vote for Hadi’s Bill. What hypocrites! Pulling MCA out of BN does not mean the MCA MPs will have to leave Parliament, it will only help them to gain credibility. Oh yes, Nancy dear Nancy, if you are not for the bill you can vote against it and not have to be absent from parliament on that fateful day. Only cowards run away.

  8. Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.”

    One of the most fundamental principle of liberal democracy is “equality before the law” for every individual citizen. First, differences in how the law treats different groups in society implies that there is no equality among the citizens of a state. Laws that treat one group of citizens differently from another will in time create a clear marker of difference in status among citizens, even if that was not the consideration at the time of the laws’ promulgation (remember the justification for the NEP and its supposed limited timeframe?). This leads to the second point that once you start to legally differentiate citizens based on their race, religion, language etc., it is a slippery slope towards further legislation that deepens the difference in status and exacerbates the discrimination.

    Classic liberalism promotes individual rights, and not supposed group rights. Individual rights cannot be secure when there is no choice in religion/faith as is the case for a sizeable “race” in Malaysia. Moreover, enshrining different laws for different faiths adds a second legal barrier (the first being racial categorisation) to the equality of Malaysian citizenship. More fundamentally, overturning Malaysia’s secular constitution is basically tearing up whatever contract was agreed upon during the founding of Malaya AND Malaysia, and that opens up an even bigger can of worms.

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