Kelantan’s hudud has just passed Level 1 on 19 March. In a unanimous vote, the State Legislative Assembly passed it after 2.5 hours of debate, bringing it one step closer to reality. So the only thing that stands between hudud on paper and hudud in practice now, is Parliament. And PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang has announced that he will table the bill in Parliament in May.
The fact that the vote was unanimous by the 31 PAS, 12 Umno and 1 PKR assemblymen, goes to show how strongly Kelantan leaders believe in it. Are the Kelantanese scared that punishments are gonna be more hardcore now? Even though non-Muslims were assured they would not be affected by the law, are they thinking of how this is gonna change the lives of their Muslim schoolmates, colleagues and neighbours?
So CILISOS spoke to a bunch of non-Muslim Kelantanese to find out what’s going through their minds right now. At first, a few of our interviewees were OK with us putting their names, but after we came across a story of the BFM journalist being threatened over hudud, we thought, errr… yeah, NO.
Regardless, some of these answers might surprise you.
Disclaimer: This article covers many Kelantanese who aren’t living in Kelantan (but grew up there), and thus might not be representative of the overall opinions of non-muslim Kelantanese. Thanks for your feedback, people!
1. “The Chinese are not really bothered” – Samuel S, 27, Sales Manager
… said Samuel about himself and his clique.
He’s been living Kota Bharu for 17 years with his family and we don’t think he’ll be losing a wink of sleep over hudud la. Although he told CILISOS…
“I have nothing against it coz it doesn’t affect the non-Muslims.”
…his view are not 100% don’t-care as he says, “I do think it’s a step backward.”
Asked whether he knew anything about hudud (without Googling it first), Samuel’s answer also showed us another side to the hudud hype in Kelantan. There is NO hype! It seemed that the authorities didn’t try to educate the non-Muslims about this law.
“We only see a few banners here and there. The non-Muslims don’t have exposure to it, I’d say. We only know that if you steal something, your hand kena chop. Or if you’re a rapist you get whipped publicly?”
This came as a surprise to us because we thought the authorities would have run campaigns, talks, anything, to educate non-Muslims simply because they’re… well, Kelantanese. “Yeah, in general it’s not a very big thing here, especially among non-Muslims.”
2. “How to find 4 witnesses for rape?” – Michelle T., 29, Freelance writer
That is the golden question for Michelle. This 4-witness rule to convict rapists got us scratching our heads as well!
Back in Kelantan, Michelle has a family living in Kota Bharu, but currently she’s working in KL. She admitted that although a lot of questions were popping up inside her head, there wasn’t much she knew about hudud… other than it being a kind of ‘an eye for an eye’ system. So right now she feels that in theory, hudud sounds like something doable, but there are many gaping questions that have no answers.
There are questions on cost:
“If amputating a person’s hand costs RM20,000 (I heard it from a doctor friend) – carrying out the punishment 10 times a day would cost a bomb. How are they going to sustain the practice financially? “
And questions on humanity:
“Where are they going to find trained professionals who are ok with cutting off people’s hands or digging out eyes? How long does it take to kill someone by throwing stones at them? Who will clean the bloody stones after?”
When we gave it some further thought, it seemed that hudud punishes a person twice… Like what if you were to see someone walking on the road with NO HAND. Would there be social stigma? We asked Michelle how she would react and she replied, “Before hudud, I’d probably feel sorry for him. If the law is passed, I’d be wary – did he lose his hand because he was in an unfortunate accident? Or did he lose it because he stole something that didn’t belong to him?”
3. “I believe we should respect that” – Yeap, 29, General Manager of a Sports Centre
…said Yeap of the Muslims’ beliefs. “Everybody has different beliefs. Hudud might be good for the Muslims if it’s the way they want it,” he added.
Though he lives in PJ now, Yeap spent 17 years in Kota Bharu living with his parents before leaving for college. He paints us a very harmonious picture of life in the East Coast – Muslims and non-Muslims live peacefully together and become close very quickly. Yeap describes that there are many strict laws Muslims follow in Kelantan, and it has become the norm for others to respect that, such as not touching or dressing inappropriately, for example. “Which trains the majority of us to be respectful, kind and helpful, when meeting people of any races outside Kelantan.”
But he did tell us something about hudud that could be a major setback…
“Yes, perhaps it might strike fear and bring down the number of lesser crimes, but it might also increase the rate of murder, as criminals might resort to murders in hopes of getting rid of evidence.”
But for Yeap, if he were to see a person with no hand walking on the street in Kelantan, he would not be hasty to judge him a thief. “I work with many OKUs and learn not to judge. I believe and hope others will as well.”
At the end of the day, he believes that what’s important is what the majority in the state want. To be a true democratic country, he explains, the most important thing is the support of the majority.
4. “I welcome hudud if corrupt politicians are also held up” Julian F, 34, Consultant
Julian, who grew up with his family in Kuala Krai, Kelantan, was telling CILISOS that it should be applied to everyone, including politicians and their children – if they, for example, were caught for embezzlement and mismanagement of funds, otherwise no point implementing it. “That’s what Hudud promises because I believe in Islam, everyone is equal in the eyes of the Almighty.”
In a stretch, Julian spent 18 years in the state where he finished Form 5, then resumed his studies in KL. He now resides in Puchong. Overall, he’s on the fence because it the law wouldn’t affect him directly.
“Islam is a beautiful religion and if its laws are implemented and enforced well, I don’t see a problem with it.”
Once it gets passed, Julian thinks hudud might be effective in bringing crime down… at least for Kelantan anyway. “I believe it will, but through fear. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. A criminal can always migrate to another state and try his or her luck there.” Oh gee, thanks lar, you mean like to PJ where the CILISOS office
is is not? But a scary law doesn’t guarantee a crime-free place, he said.
“I must stress that drug laws in Malaysia are scary as well, as it carries the mandatory death penalty, but you still hear about people trying their luck.”
5. “I feel safer” – Tiger, 38, Project Manager
“… that there will not be a repeat offender on the loose,” said Tiger.
“A burglar would now think twice before he makes that fateful decision to enter a house, because losing an arm will be replayed in his head.”
Tiger is convinced that hudud WILL effectively bring crime down in Kelantan. He told us very honestly that if he saw someone without a hand on the street he would assume the fella had been served the justice of hudud. He committed a crime and paid for it.
But what Tiger wants others to know as well, is that there’s nothing for his fellow Kelantanese to fear, especially non-Muslims. “I hope they don’t get paranoid about hudud, although it may sound barbaric and backwards, it is a down-to-earth law,” according to our source, who lives in Kota Bharu with his family.
“Also, it only applies to non-Muslims and business and life goes on. Non-Muslims should allow hudud as it is a totally separate matter. Give Hudud a chance.”
6. “Maybe only bigger and serious crimes” – Hui, 34, Senior Brand Manager
“…like murder and rape. Maybe they want to re-look the type of convictions – don’t use hudud law on everything.”
We sense that if Hui were a judge, she’d be a merciful judge. But that doesn’t mean baddies can mess with her. She believes that laws are installed for a purpose. “Seriously, I have nothing against this or nothing to support this. If it’s meant to happen, maybe it’s for a valid reason, to punish those who are responsible or have committed serious crimes.”
Hui, who’s now based in Ara Damansara, spent 23 years living in Kota Bharu with her family. She suggested that if people were to see others punished under hudud, it will “freak the sh*t out of everyone and people will think twice before they commit crimes.” But there’s a ‘but’ here…
“At the rate our law enforcers are doing their tasks and such, there will still be people getting off hook with the crimes that they had committed. Look at the rate of the unsolved crime rates in our country. Due to the bias that’s also happening in this country, I will not be surprised if people with certain titles get away.“
No wonder our other interviewee, Julian F. said he’s all for hudud if corrupt politicians are also brought to justice. Bottom line is, Hui believes if you’ve committed a crime, you deserve to be punished.
7. “It’s a politically-motivated motion” – Tan, 34, Bank IT Manager
We all know that in Malaysia, religion, politics and business go together like 3-in coffee. So it’s no surprise that some people might think this move is politically motivated (what isn’t these days?)
“I’m always adamant that it’s a politically-motivated motion, executed in the name of religion and Muslim solidarity.
Hudud is not something new in Kelantan as the laws have been tabled and passed in DUN back in 1993. To date, implementation and enforcement still remain a challenge. And how they are going to go about it this time is also a question mark.
Having said that, I personally don’t think that it’s a law, for state and the nation to move forward.”
Although he left his hometown in Kota Bharu for college, he goes back every 3 to 5 months. Now staying in PJ, he still keeps up with the development of hudud news. “To be honest, I don’t expect to see this come into reality eventually.” Neither does he believe it will reduce crime in the East Coast state.
Among the people we spoke to, Tan is the only guy worried about how it might affect non-Muslims. He highlights that there are still grey areas in the law and unanswered questions on how it could eventually affect non-Muslim citizens. For instance, in a crime between a Muslim and a non-Muslim, which law will be enforced?
“We definitely need the law experts to help us establish comprehensive and right understanding, in order to safeguard our rights as granted under the constitution.”
Yea we were a bit surprised too
The biggest surprise that these 7 Kelantanese gave us was – despite there being opposition to hudud (by Muslims and non-Muslims alike) around Malaysia, there are in fact non-Muslim Kelantanese who are OK with the law. We were guessing from the resistance on our social media that EVERYONE non-Muslim would be against it.
But Hudud implementation will be tricky
Like the humanity of the punishments, as Michelle brought up…will the hand amputation be done with anesthetics? Eric Paulsen, Executive Director of Lawyers for Liberty is another who person questions this. Read his article about 20 questions for PAS on Free Malaysia Today. What we know so far is that they’re considering using a smaller form of the guillotine (like the one used during the French Revolution) to amputate limbs, reported The Malaysian Insider.
And what about the crime of rape? Where will the victim find 4 witnesses? Because if she doesn’t, the tables are completely turned on her and she will be charged for qazaf (slanderous accusation), punishable by 80 lashes, according to Sisters in Islam (SIS). Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah answered this by saying if the victim can get a testimony from a doctor/psychologist, or fewer than 4 witnesses, a lesser sentence could be given…TO THE VICTIM!! So SIS calls this a law that protects rapists.
Meanwhile there are others who are not sure that the law 100% excludes non-Muslims. Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara Vice President Premasilaka K.D. Serisena said in common sense, implementing hudud on top of the existing legal system is creating a dual criminal justice system, he told FMT.
“My question here is, what if a non-Muslim rapes a Muslim? Or Muslim commits a crime against a non-Muslim? Which system are you going to use? It’s ridiculous.” – K.D. Serisena, VP of Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara, Free Malaysia Today
So as of now, people are waiting on the state authorities to answer the question. In the next stage, PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang will table the hudud bill in Parliament in May. What they need is a simple majority of votes.
Ironically, this is one issue that might get mixed votes from both sides of the political divide.