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Why the about-turn now on hudud?

 | May 8, 2014

Why is Umno agreeing to PAS' plan to implement hudud in Kelantan? Is there a lesson to be learnt from Brunei?


Najib HududThe hudud fiasco both in Malaysia and Brunei has opened an ugly can of worms, one that is both chilling and nauseating to the conscience. For one, leaders of both nations are at best hypocritical in their zeal to get the hudud law enforced.

It was in September 2011 that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak made his stand on hudud clear – it was no go for Malaysia where hudud was concerned.

Najib then said while hudud was accepted in Islam, its implementation had to be based on reality.

“Hudud laws cannot be implemented as we have to take into consideration the environment and the reality.

“The aim of an administration according to Islam is based on the maqasid syariah principle, which, among others, entails protecting religion, life, morals and property,” he had said after launching the Tanjung Tualang 1Malaysia carnival in Kampar.

The premier had also said that there were already elements of hudud in the system “minus the extreme part”.

Najib then accused PAS leaders of raising the hudud issue to divert the rakyat’s attention.

So why the about-turn now, Najib? Last month, he said the Barisan Nasional (BN) government had never rejected hudud as Allah’s law.

Instead, Najib said there were so many issues that had to be solved before the law could be fully implemented in the country.

So BN or rather its dominant arm Umno, has taken ‘baby steps’ towards hudud by proposing the setting up of a national-level technical committee on hudud laws prior to PAS’ tabling of a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament in June.

Deputy Prime Minister and Ummo deputy presideny Muhyiddin Yassin said the committee would be include experts on hudud law, including those from abroad.

In the meantime, the civil society continues to reproach the federal government for giving the hudud law ‘the benefit of the doubt’.

Brunei condemned by Hollywood

While the hudud controversy threatens to rip Malaysia’s precious diversity apart, the heat for Brunei’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is equally ‘scorching’.

Hollywood has declared ‘war’ with Brunei, refusing to have anything to do with the nation until and unless the repressive hudud law is called off.

Amazingly, Brunei’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, seems unfazed. Instead, he is all praise for his country’s new laws, deeming them as “great achievement”.

“The decision to implement the (Syariah penal code) is not for fun but is to obey Allah’s command as written in the Quran,” the sultan said last week.

Ironically, both Najib and Sultan Hassanal share a common thread – thrusting the ‘do as I say and not as I do’ commandment to their rakyat.

Had Allah’s command been sacred to the Sultan of Brunei, he would not have indulged in anti-Islam affairs like adultery, as revealed by Jillian Lauren, author of the book ‘Some Girls: My Life in a Harem’.

Lauren tells of how as a teenager she spent 18 months as a mistress in the harem of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, youngest brother of the Sultan.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday night, Lauren revealed that Prince Jefri had ‘gifted’ her for a night to Sultan Hassanal. Condemning Brunei’s move to impose the syariah law, she defined it as ‘double standard’, i.e. one rule for the masses and another for the rulers.

While Najib continues to be reprimanded for his refusal to put an end to the hudud controversy, Sultan Hassanal on the other hand has to deal with severed business ties with his once Hollywood ‘buddies’.

Hollywood takes Brunei’s move to implement the draconian syariah law very, very seriously, so much so that it has decided to cut all ties with the country in whichever way possible, including boycotting the Beverly Hills Hotel which is owned by Sultan Hassanal.

Brunei rocked by boycott

Sultan Hassanal has earned the wrath of Hollywood big-wigs who scorn at Brunei’s Islamic syariah laws where adultery, abortions and same-sex relationships will be dealt with via flogging and stoning.

Hollywood’s Motion Picture and Television Fund is among a growing list of organisations and individuals now refusing to do business with hotels owned by Sultan Hassanal or the Brunei government.

This means the Motion Picture and Television Fund will no longer hold its annual ‘Night Before the Oscar’ party at the hotel as had been the case for many years.

“We cannot condone or tolerate these harsh and repressive laws and as a result support a business owned by the sultan of Brunei or a Brunei sovereign fund associated with the government of Brunei,” the fund’s directors said in a statement.

Known for its orthodox stand, Brunei’s hudud punishment is also applicable to the non-Muslims who represent one-third of the 440,000 people in the oil-rich country.

The most severe punishments — flogging, amputation and stoning — are to be introduced over the next two years.

For now, there is no stopping the Hollywood boycott of the sultan’s Dorchester Collection of hotels.

But has Hollywood’s outcry, rebuke, hostility and also claims by Lauren of the sultan’s hypocrisy in not practising what he preaches brought shame to Brunei?

Yes, but perhaps not enough for Sultan Hassanal to put the brakes on the hudud law.

Back home, the amount of reproach slam dunked on the Najib-administration over the hudud row is no where near the magnitude that has rocked Brunei. Malaysians definitely can do more in saying ‘No to hudud’.

Malaysians definitely can do more in saying ‘No to hudud’. Beware the perils of  insisting on “an eye for an eye says Mahatma Gandhi “for it only ends up making the whole world blind”.

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and an FMT columnist.


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