Hudud critics ignore barbaric nature of existing punishments in Malaysia, PAS leader says

CRITICS of "violent" punishments under hudud, the Islamic penal code, were ignoring the barbaric nature of capital and corporal punishments under existing federal laws, said Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) leader Abdul Hadi Awang, in his first rebuttal to an opposition coalition member's severing of ties with him.

Earlier this week, Democratic Action Party (DAP) Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng said his party "deplores the dishonest and dishonourable acts" of Datuk Seri Hadi, after the PAS leader helped push through hudud laws in Kelantan state, which PAS controls.

The move violated the spirit of consensus within the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, Mr Lim said. He said would no longer work with Mr Hadi, a decision that angered PAS members.

Mr Hadi said the public should not jump to conclusions without understanding what is hudud, which proscribes amputations, stoning and whipping for some offences.

"Surely it is not sweet if we act like a parrot that is only clever in repeating the words taught by his master, but remain as an animal without reason or understanding the nature of the words uttered," he said.

"Therefore explaining its meaning with knowledge derived from al-Quran and as-Sunnah is very important," he said in a posting on Facebook.

As-Sunnah refers to the prophetic tradition.

PAS's hudud move has become politically divisive in Malaysia. To enforce the code in Kelantan, PAS needs the national Parliament to approve changes to federal laws. That is looking unlikely.

The Straits Times reported on Thursday that the proposal to discuss the implemention of hudud in Kelantan was put to Malaysia's respected nine-member Council of Rulers by Jakim, a federal Islamic agency, after discussions between the ruling Umno party and PAS.

But the rulers' council resisted discussing it at their March 11 meeting when it was presented to them for endorsement by Jakim.

The rulers felt it encroached on their constitutional authority as head of religion in their respective states, a source told The Straits Times.

asruls@sph.com.sg