RUU355 rally and Bebas counter rally


This is the scene at Padang Merbok, where some 50,000 are attending a rally in support of Hadi’s bill.

Mind you, this is without any obstacles, roadblocks or threats of arrest. (And so can have a fair idea of how many people Pas could contribute to a Bersih rally.) This is more or less the number of supporters Pas could pack into a stadium in say, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Indeed, the numbers appear well short of Hadi’s prediction of a 200,000 turnout – and it is hardly a ringing nationwide endorsement of his bill. My good friend, Tasik Gelugor Pas information chief Abdul Rahman Kasim, was more guarded, forecasting 100,000 ahead of the rally. As friends, we have had frank exchanges – and strong differences of views – over whether Hadi’s bill is suitable for a diverse, multireligious society like ours. But no hard feelings.

Meanwhile, some 200 gathered for the Bebas counter rally at Taman Jaya. Among those addressing the crowd was Haris Ibrahim.

Anyway, it is good that the authorities have respected the right of both sides to gather peacefully and air their views at different venues.

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  1. The issue is made more complicated but the fact that this is more political than religious. Putting aside PAS’ ambition to see this through, the bill is an obvious affirmation of the party’s own religious credentials. In the current climate, this helps to regain the trust of its core supporters, which also explains why UMNO has jumped on the bill’s bandwagon. It helps UMNO to bolster its image at a time when the administration has suffered a dip in popularity. The timing of this issue is also convenient, as elections are due to be held latest by next year.

    As it stands, it would not be surprising if the bill passes next month when it comes to parliament. Opposition MPs who opposed the bill are likely to be absent from the vote for fear of being branded anti-Islamic, while UMNO’s allies in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition are likely to vote along party lines. If the amendment eventually gets passed, the biggest concern is how it is likely to worsen existing racial and religious polarisation in the country. Given the political dimension to the bill, and a general election looming, a more inclusive Malaysia is not yet on the horizon.

  2. ‘Muslims don’t need this right now’

    PERLIS Mufti Datuk Dr Asri Zainul Abidin spoke bluntly at a recent forum on religion.

    “Gossiping is a big sin in Islam but are there (syariah) laws against gossiping? Do you see the religious authorities sending officers out to haul up those who gossip?’’

    He points out that while some things are haram (forbidden) and sinful in Islam, that does not mean that Allah demands for all of these to be punished in a court of law.

    In the case of adultery, for example, he says, if there are only three witnesses of good character present and not four as required by the religion, the adulterer would have to be let off.

    “Not all sins have to hauled up to court. The religion doesn’t ask us to go and check up on people, from room to room or car to car, asking for their surat nikah (marriage licence) to find out if they are married or not.’’

    Citing another example, he says, a powerful and rich person who commits a crime might be able to afford a good lawyer who cleverly argues the case and gets it thrown out of court.

    “But that doesn’t mean that because they got away with it in a court of law, they will get away with it in the Court of the Hereafter. God knows everything.

    “Muslims believe we will be tried for all our sins. Drinking alcohol, adultery, stealing are all sins. When we die, we will have to face God and answer for whatever we did. There is no escape.’’

    Dr Asri was speaking at the “How Much Do you Know About Hudud” forum organised by Angkatan Merdeka Malaysia.

    Touching on PAS president Datuk Seri Dr Hadi Awang’s motion before Parliament for the amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction ) Act 355 (popularly referred to as RUU355), Dr Asri said there are concerns it is all part of a political game.

    Dr Asri stresses that while the Quran and Sunnah (tradition of the Holy Prophet) are divine, the interpretations are not.

    He points out that while hudud (Islamic Penal Code) is mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah, it is not spelt out in great detail with regards to the context and conditions.

    So it was left to scholars to deliberate on these.

    “Scholars do not always agree so they have different interpretations of things. So which interpretation should you favour? These are not divine.’’

    On RUU355, Dr Asri says, the politicians supporting it keep saying it is not the hudud.

    “If it is not hudud, then surely we Muslims are allowed to criticise and give our views. So why is it that whoever criticises RUU355 is labelled as going against Islam? How is it that if you oppose the amendments you are said to oppose Allah’s Laws?

    “And what are Allah’s Laws? Does it mean that if you increase the penalty for an offence from RM5,000 to RM100,000 that it now becomes Allah’s Law?’’

    Dr Asri says even within the country, there are differences from state to state in the way Islamic matters, including polygamy, is dealt with, “so we must be very careful about calling something ‘Allah’s Law’.’’

    For him, discussion and debate are essential when looking into the dimension of punishment, because it is not only about implementation but also the conditions, the context, and suitability.

    He points out that in the Quran, there is a verse, Surah Al Anfal, which talks about the spoils of war and how they should be distributed, with fighters entitled to their share of them too. But he points out that this is not implemented today, because even though it is in the Quran, the wars of today are different from those in the early days; and soldiers now are paid salaries and allowances.

    “Defending the country is jihad (a noble struggle) but we don’t hear any political party in the country asking for a spoils of war law to be implemented because the context in today’s world is different.’’

    In a jibe at PAS, he says, “tens of years ago’’ they used to label other Muslims who were not with them as “infidels’’, they described the Federal Constitution as a “Jahiliyah” Constitution (Constitution of Ignorance) and warned Muslims against wishing non-Muslims during their religious festivals because for them that was tantamount to leaving the Muslim faith.

    But, he says, PAS has backpedalled now on what it said previously and today it says it upholds the Federal Constitution.

    “Allah’s Law should never be politicised. It is difficult when political parties come in and play a role in what they deem is Islamic law.

    “When religion is politicised, the discussion is no longer fresh and not the sort that can stimulate rational thinking and a healthy discourse.’’

    Dr Asri questions: Why do Muslims have a mentality that says, in order to be Islamic the hand of someone who steals has to be amputated?

    This kind of mentality is wrong, he says, adding that these kinds of Muslims understand Islam in a closed-off, secluded and non-holistic manner.

    “It is like the IS (Islamic State) mentality, where they think of only punishing and not about developing the place.’’

    For him, it is wrong to give the world the impression that justice in a Muslim country is served “when we cut off the hands of those who steal, whip those who commit adultery and punish those who drink alcohol’’ and that “this is what showcases the beauty of Islam’’.

    Dr Asri says Islam is all about better welfare for the people, spiritual development, strengthening family bonds, and ensuring peace and harmony in society.

    And he points out that the Government has already taken action to do a number of these, such as building schools and universities and giving people an education, which is something sought by the religion.

    He says there are many things which could have been brought before Parliament, such as how to inculcate the beauty and mercy of Islam into education and the economy.

    “But in tens of years in parliament, they (PAS) never even brought these up and focused instead on labelling other Muslims infidels, and having two imams during prayers (because they refused to be led in prayers by an Umno imam).”

    He points out that Muslim countries with renowned scholars such as Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar have never discussed implementing hudud, and countries like Pakistan, Sudan and Nigeria that tried to implement it have stopped, because in today’s world, people and conditions are different.

    He also says that in Islam there should never be double standards in implementing a law.

    “I fear that a person who steals a car will get his hand amputated but a nobleman who steals millions will not get his hand amputated.’’

    He questions what such a thing would do to the fabric of society and the image of Islam.

    Dr Asri says if a Muslim faces amputation for a theft and non-Muslims do not, that would not help create harmony and peace within society because there are two sets of laws for the same crime.

    He fears if such laws are enacted and implemented in an unjust manner, it will cause Muslims to leave the faith.

    “Muslims don’t need this right now.

    “There are many other issues that we should be looking into, such as the issue of good governance, the environment and corruption. We should also be looking at issues that help women, such as expediting divorce cases, because there are a number of cases where women in the midst of getting a divorce are left hanging for years without their cases being resolved. I think all these matters should be sorted out first otherwise people will feel that Islam is unjust to women.

    “For me, if the amendments to RUU355 are not going to result in good, let us postpone them and focus on our priorities.’’

    • The former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, had to argue why Egypt, home to the prestigious Al-Azhar University, had not implemented the hudud punishments in the last thousand years. To him, this contemporary era was one of shubhat, which effectively rendered hudud stipulations inoperable.

      Many do not realise that even the very concept of thieving in the Qur’an (referenced through the use of the term Sariq) raises doubt on what constitute an offence to invite such punishment, be it the frequency of the act of theft or the amount stolen. It is for this reason that the different schools of jurisprudence of Islam in late antiquity had different interpretations regarding who was deserving of the punishments.

      The issue of doubt to suspend hudud – a pre-Islamic form of punishment – is pertinent as the lack of integrity in any criminal justice system may result in gross injustice. Take the case of Pakistan. The zina (adultery) component of the 1979 Hudood Ordinance resulted in the increase in imprisonment of women mainly because they failed to prove they were victims of rape. The number of women imprisoned after the Hudood Ordinance increased from about 70 in 1979 to a staggering 6000 in 1988 and by 2004, an estimated 80% of the women consisted of such victims of sexual harassment or assault, accused of adultery or of making false claims.

      The pro-hudud crowd in Malaysia may not be aware of such serious contradictions between the religious utopia promised by a decontextualised reading of the hudud provisions in the Qur’an and the reality of having hudud in place. That reality, with great potential for severe miscarriage of justice, is diametrically opposed to the essential message of the Qur’an.

      Perhaps communal politics have caused an anxious Malaysian society to placate hardliners. If so, the politicisation of hudud has made the implementation of hudud seem like a religious obligation for an unsuspecting Muslim community and idealistic Muslims. It is the very expectation of fulfilling this obligation and its ideologisation that will pave the way for greater radicalisation and violence when faced with opposition.

      The fight against today’s global terrorism – that has misused Islamic ideas and symbols – are at the crossroads insofar as its characterisation is concerned. The debate now is on whether the fight ought to be called countering “Islamist extremism” instead of “violent extremism”. As long as the implementation of hudud remains a religious unthought, there is a case to be made for calling a spade a spade.


  3. Johor’s Old Temple 5 deities procession on Friday attracted 400,000 crowd, far more than this PAS event.

  4. Mark,
    Just for Political gains Political Traders will sell their saliva.PAS under HADI can’t be tamed.He just think about his mission to spread [alleged] lies.

    rajraman.Meanwhile Nik Aziz son visit church just to cover up their extremist view.By visiting church or even Deity shrine do not mean they will gave up their extremist view.
    It’s just another Political Play by Political Traders.This Political Traders acting much better than movie star.Anyway Ah MO1 openly ‘sleeping’ with HADI in the name of MALAY UNITY NOT MALAYSIAN UNITY.

  5. Kajian Invoke Mendapati 40% Ahli Pas Akan Mengundi Parti Lain

    Is PAS going to be a ‘kingmaker’ in GE14?

  6. They failed their own target, called it a success and want everyone else to shut up. And the left believe there is hope of real change. The delusion is on both sides

  7. Failures in religious crusades does NOTHING to stop them. 50,000 vs 200 is not even an adult conversation.

    32% of Malays in Selangor think Hadi Awang should lead the opposition WHEN HE IS NOT. That is 32% too many supporters in what is a developed state. For PH to retain Selangor, Amanah has to win, not just DAP and wobbly PKR.

  8. Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali said,quote ” PAS is a political party whose leaders are stupid!”,unquote”.

    What is the purpose of this? Enhance the syariah law?

    What is the punishment for corruption? In PAS?

    The sad thing is the followers are blind to the wrong doings of their leaders in the name of religion. Can’t they see this rally has got nothing to do with religion?

  9. Hadi Awang is the most incompetent leader i have seen malaysian politics. He should have been removed the the moment Pas lost the Terenganu state government in the 2004 General election. In fact if he was the Private Sector a poor results getter like him would have been removed long time ago.

  10. Hadi promised Heaven.
    Hadi works with MO1
    HADI at one time said UMNO including UMNO member KAFIR.
    200,000 Hadi said but turn up 3000?

    rajraman.No wonder he lost Trengganu,Kedah and soon most state seats the next election.Maybe Kelantan MOI eyeing quitely.Is Hadi know how to counts? I also wondering is he really a Ulama? Is Hadi spoken the truth?
    DECIDE with your OWN BRAIN, since HADI can brainwash you as the DEITY and MO1.

    • For PAS, a working relationship with Bersatu would give it access to the latter’s election machinery in Johor and Kedah, two states where Bersatu is strong and PAS weak despite its numerous attempts at making inroads. PAS could conceivably also use Bersatu as a mediator in order to keep Amanah from contesting in its traditional strongholds in Kelantan and Terengganu.

      For Bersatu, the objectives are equally utilitarian – keep PAS away from UMNO while strengthening the opposition by bringing PAS back into its stable. To succeed, and given the trust deficit that exists between them, Bersatu would have to assume the challenging role of interlocutor between PAS on one hand, and the DAP and Amanah on the other. This scenario would not be dissimilar to what transpired in 1990, when PAS and DAP were held together by the UMNO offshoot of the day, Semangat ’46.



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