PETALING JAYA: Three prominent Muslim doctors of medicine have voiced outrage over the Kelantan government’s proposal to use the services of surgeons in amputating the hands of thieves found guilty under hudud law.
They told FMT that would mean asking a doctor to violate his professional oath of doing no harm to the human body.
The three are Islamic Renaissance Front director Ahmad Farouk Musa, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon, California-based surgeon and political commentator M Bakri Musa and Kota Raja MP Siti Mariah Mahmud, a doctor who used to teach medicine at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
In a recent press interview, Kelantan deputy menteri besar Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said contemporary Islamic scholars were of the opinion that the services of surgeons were needed in carrying out punitive amputation to ensure that no part of the body beyond one of the wrists would be harmed.
Farouk said Amar was perhaps unaware that a universal guiding principle for physicians is, “First, do no harm.”
He criticised Amar for ignoring the “moral wrong” of what he was suggesting.
“He should know that the medical profession is the noblest profession on earth and that it is morally wrong to suggest such a heinous act against another human being in the name of religion.
“We surgeons are instruments of God on earth, to heal people of their ailment, disease and suffering. To suggest that we inflict such punishment is unthinkable and against the Geneva Convention. Only a twisted mind could have thought of such a move.”
Siti Mariah said such a procedure was beyond the scope of a medical practitioner’s work and he should not be burdened with the responsibility.
“Hudud is criminal law,” she pointed out. “The people who should take care of it are people who enforce criminal law. You can’t ask doctors to do it because they have their professional oath, which is to save lives and limbs.
“Even in countries that do practice hudud, it’s not doctors who perform these procedures. Doctors can only verify whether a person is fit to undergo the punishment.”
She criticised PAS for its eagerness to enforce hudud while neglecting to fully explain to the public why it thought there was a call for the law and exactly how it would enforce it.
“You have to get everything in place and explain to people why we should implement hudud and how you want to implement it,” she said.
“We haven’t solved poverty and PAS hasn’t explained to the people what kind of theft deserves hudud punishment. What about those who stole millions? What about those involved in fraud? You have to define what theft in hudud means.
“Today we hear people stealing a couple of cans of condensed milk and they’re imprisoned for years. What about ministers who lie and steal money from the people?”
Bakri described Amar’s statement as “idiotic”.
“To be truthful, that statement is no more idiotic than the other statements issued by PAS members masquerading as politicians,” he said.
“They are in the position to govern and solve the problems facing the rakyat and they busy themselves with such silly things as the cutting off of hands.”
As a surgeon, he said, it was his job to help people and not add to their problems.
“My job is to save lives. Where I cannot do so, I would at least have to help improve lives that have been ravaged by diseases or injuries, not add to their suffering. Who will feed that person whose hands have been cut off?”
Farouk also said the Kelantan government should be focusing on problems the state was facing instead of issuing statements on plans that had yet to be realised, such as the implementation of hudud.
“As deputy menteri besar, Amar should know that Kelantan had zero foreign direct investment last year.
“He should also know that Kelantan has the highest rate of youth unemployment and the highest number of AIDS cases. These indicators show a failed system of governance.
“Shouldn’t he be focusing on tackling these issues, especially when Kelantan’s gross domestic product per capita is just one-third of the national average?”