By Ida Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 — The Barisan Nasional government has never raised the issue of hudud, the Islamic penal code, to be carried out in multi-religious Malaysia, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz told Sin Chew Daily in an interview published today.
Hudud has remained a sensitive touch point in Southeast Asia’s third largest economy, which has a 60 per cent Muslim population with political parties continuing to spar over the subject in the run-up to the 13th general elections.
The idea of having an Islamic criminal code has been used to either scare away the minority Chinese voters, or shore up support among the majority Malay-Muslim community, which is split three-ways among the ruling BN’s mainstay and the country’s biggest Malay party, Umno and the opposition’s Islamist PAS and PKR, seen as an urban liberal party.
“We don’t have to say anything, look at our past record, we have never brought up this topic,” Nazri told the Chinese-language daily in an interview published today.
In June, a Johor Umno state assemblyman had proposed that hudud laws be carried out on Muslims and non-Muslims alike in the whole state, which immediately caused MCA to threaten to leave BN if the coalition implements the Islamic laws.
Kelantan and Terengganu have passed hudud as laws, but these laws have yet to be enforced because they go against the Federal Constitution.
MCA had previously warned that Muslim MPs would unite to amend the constitution in favour of hudud if Pakatan Rakyat takes over, but DAP’s Lim Kit Siang had dismissed it as a “lie” to stop the Chinese community from voting for the opposition.
Lim had said that there were only 130 Muslim MPs in the country, while 148 MPs are needed to make up the two-thirds majority for a constitutional amendment.
MCA had also repeatedly used the issue in its bid to drive a wedge between PAS and DAP, two parties in the Pakatan Rakyat federal opposition pact.
PAS has expressed its support for the implementation of hudud law, but DAP has said that it can only be done in a “Islamic state”, pointing out that the Federal Constitution states that Malaysia is a secular country.
BN has often pointed to the differing views of PAS and DAP on hudud as proof that PR is not united.
When asked to comment on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad saying BN’s hudud and PAS’ brand of hudud is different, Nazri asked: “Who is he? He is only the former prime minister, this is a country with freedom of speech, he can say anything.”
Dr Mahathir, who is also the former BN and Umno president, was previously reported as saying that PAS could realise its goal to set up an Islamic state and carry out hudud if it joined Umno in a bid to woo the Islamist party to the BN’s side.
The controversy prompted PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang to rise to its ally’s defence, pointing out that while the DAP opposed hudud, Umno had already rejected its implementation.