Defer sitting to introduce Islamic criminal law, lawyers tell Kelantan

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KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyers’ group wants the PAS-led Kelantan government to postpone the special sitting to amend its syariah enactment for the implementation of hudud in the state until it had carried out consultation with stakeholders. 

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said it was shocked at the Kelantan government’s extreme haste in holding the sitting despite the controversy and strong objections.

“What is even more outrageous and unbecoming is that the draft hudud amendments and implementation plan are still shrouded in secrecy despite the obvious seriousness and far-reaching implications they would have on Malaysia,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The state government is proposing changes to the Shariah Criminal Enactment II 1993 ahead of its plan to table in Parliament a private member’s Bill to amend the Federal Constitution and facilitate implementation of hudud in Kelantan.

Deputy Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Amar Abdullah was reported to have said that the changes would be kept confidential and that Pakatan Rakyat partners PKR and DAP would only know about them when the amendments are tabled at the sitting.

Hudud covers the most serious crimes in Islamic jurisprudence, including theft, highway robbery, adultery, drinking alcohol and illegal sexual intercourse.

Those found guilty face punishments such as amputation of limbs, flogging and death by stoning.

Paulsen said such secrecy, lack of accountability and consultations with the public, civil society, and even PAS’ central leadership, let alone with Pakatan Rakyat partners, was bad governance and in breach of democratic norms.

“Without a clear idea as to what are the latest hudud amendments and implementation plan, we are left... grappling in the dark,” he said.

Paulsen said PAS was essentially asking the public to have blind faith in the judges’ discretion and sense of justice and trust in God.

“Such a simplistic approach is misplaced and unacceptable in this day and age, all the more for such a serious matter as hudud,” he added. 

As such, he suggested the state government postpone the sitting until it reveals the draft amendments and implementation plan, and after consulting with all stakeholders. — The Malaysian Insider


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 24, 2014.