KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that proponents of hudud had pushed for it to be adopted during his time but that he had kept them under control.
Now that he was no longer in power, he said, they had begun to push for hudud or Islamic criminal laws in the country, he told TIME magazine in an interview.
Asked to comment on the hudud bill moved by PAS President Hadi Awang and fast-tracked by Umno in Parliament, although Malaysia had a reputation for being a moderate Muslim nation, Mahathir said the laws that PAS wanted to pass were against the teachings of Islam.
“Justice is the most important thing. In a plural society like Malaysia, you cannot have two laws — one law for the Muslim, one law for the non-Muslim. If a Muslim and a non-Muslim thief steal, you cut off the Muslim’s hand, and the non-Muslim gets two months’ jail. Is that justice? Obviously it is not justice. If it is not justice, it is not Islamic.
“They were not able to make any progress with their hudud laws during my time. I didn’t tell them that this Islam is out-of-date or anything like that.
“I said Islam stresses justice, and what you are doing is to create injustice, therefore it is wrong.
“But when I stepped down, they brought it up again. Hudud is man-made; it’s political, it is just meant to show that you are very Islamic … Today, Muslims are in a lot of turmoil, and it’s not because of Islam. It is because they reject Islam.”
On the fact that during his time he had consolidated executive power but now Prime Minister Najib Razak was being accused of making himself all powerful, Mahathir said:
“All leaders must have some power. Without power, you can’t be a leader. And the power given to the prime minister is adequate if he wants to do something that is needed, something that is good. What we are seeing is that the same power that I had when I was able to make decisions that were beneficial for the country, that power is being abused.”
Asked what had happened to the high expectations that people had when Najib took office, especially in terms of greater liberalism and democratic space, Mahathir said:
“He (believes that) he can sustain his popularity and remain prime minister with money. Because of that, he has to find some source of money. Our belief is that he created this so-called sovereign fund (1Malaysia Development Bhd) so he can somehow make use of that money in order to ensure that he gets support from party members and from other people.”