Dr M’s religious outlook not an issue, says Art Harun

Lawyer Azhar Harun says the hudud bill is being used merely to lure votes.

PETALING JAYA: Lawyer Azhar Harun has rejected a claim by political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff that Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s religious understanding should determine whether he is qualified to be prime minister again.

The civil rights activist, better known as Art Harun, said the issue did not arise as the country’s Islamic affairs was already amply dealt with through laws like the Federal Constitution and relevant government bodies.

He said Kamarul was also wrong in dismissing PPBM chairman Mahathir, who is Pakatan Harapan’s prime ministerial candidate if it wins the 14th general election (GE14), by claiming that the 93-year-old was anti-hudud.

Kamarul, a Universiti Utara Malaysia lecturer, had in a Facebook posting on Sunday said Mahathir’s age was not the main determinant of his qualification to lead the country as his perspective of Islam, which he claimed was not right.

He said Mahathir’s rejection of hudud made the former prime minister of 22 years ineligible to hold the office again.

Azhar responded on his own Facebook page on Monday by asking why PH was blamed now for going against hudud, when Umno and PAS had not introduced the Islamic criminal punishment during Umno’s rule over the country since 1957.

He said the issue was being used as “tasteless political capital” to fish for votes.

“People such as myself who question the implementation of hudud as being against the Federal Constitution are often labelled as anti-Islam and ‘kafir’ (non-believers),” he said.

He also questioned what happened to the bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) to impose harsher punishment after it had been tabled in the Dewan Rakyat by PAS president Hadi Awang on April 6 last year.

“How many times will it be listed for debate in Parliament only to be postponed?”

Azhar said the move to introduce the bill was just a show to lure votes.

“This issue will be played up, especially as the election draws near.”

Azhar also hit out at Kamarul’s assertion that PH’s manifesto for GE14 did not state any commitment to uphold Islam.

He said the coalition had already promised to respect the provisions of the Federal Constitution, which included the status of Islam in Malaysia.

On March 22, a video clip of a forum titled “Is Tun M Too Old to be PM?”, featuring Kamarul as one of the speakers, went viral after Mahathir himself showed up while Kamarul was speaking on stage.

Kamarul later denied allegations on social media that he had “freaked out”, especially after a photo that apparently showed him looking stunned and sitting next to Mahathir went viral.