Terengganu’s hudud: Will BN go ahead, or won’t it? PAS rep aims to find out

By Zurairi AR
Terengganu’s Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) Enactment received the royal assent in 2002, but cannot yet still be implemented because Shariah courts cannot mete out harsh hudud punishments. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — It has been nearly 15 years since Terengganu passed and gazetted its controversial hudud enactment, but the law has been in limbo since 2004 when Barisan Nasional (BN) retook the state from PAS’ one-term administration.

With the state assembly scheduled to meet later this month, a PAS lawmaker has filed a notice for a motion to settle the question once and for all: what is actually the reason behind the Terengganu BN government’s reluctance to proceed with implementing hudud?

“I would like to bring the question: Is this all political? Or what sort of excuse is being given that it is still yet to be implemented?” maverick assemblyman Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.

Terengganu’s Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) Enactment received the royal assent in 2002, but cannot yet still be implemented because Shariah courts cannot mete out harsh hudud punishments such as amputations, stoning, or death penalty.

Syed Azman conceded that one of the reasons is due to the restrictions governed by the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355, which his party president and Marang MP Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is hoping to amend in the current Parliament meeting with the ruling Umno’s help.

Despite that, Syed Azman pointed out that Umno and PAS leaders have repeatedly insisted that Hadi’s private member’s Bill has “nothing to do with hudud”, although it is possibly one of the stumbling blocks towards implementing Terengganu’s hudud.

“For me, this issue has been politicised, there is no sincerity to implement it by giving many excuses. What more, we are not even going anywhere with this RUU355,” he said, using the Malay abbreviation for the Shariah Bill.

Syed Azman confirmed that he gave the requisite 14-day notice with the state assembly secretary Thursday last week under Section 31(2) of the Terengganu State Legislative Assembly Regulations and Standing Orders.

The state assembly is scheduled to meet on March 27.

The Batu Burok representative also said he has invited Terengganu mufti Datuk Dr Zulkifly Muda and the state religious commissioner to give an explanation regarding the issue.

For all that, Syed Azman said he does not see hudud implementation as a priority in the country at the moment, noting that there were many socio-economic issues of greater public concern.

“I have stated in the motion about the importance of maqasid shariah, in the context of the society, and jurisprudential priorities… Is it a priority when you are faced with graft, and major crimes from those in the higher office?” he said, using the Arabic term for the goals of Islamic code.

“What is the guarantee that there will be justice and fairness in its implementation? Is it just for the poor? Will you also punish the blue bloods?” he asked.

Syed Azman has been critical of his own party ever since late 2015, and the Terengganu chapter of Parti Amanah Negara has been reported as being keen for international politics expert to join them.

The east coast state of Terengganu is almost entirely Malay-Muslim, with only a handful of other ethnic minorities residing there.

Terengganu recently made headlines for its enforcement of Islamic rules, when it announced that it would punish Friday prayer truancy, mull dress codes for tourists to the state, and nab unmarried couples riding motorbikes together.

In 2015, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abd Rahman said the Terengganu state government had no problem implementing hudud provided the public, especially non-Muslims, understand the controversial Islamic penal law.

In response, PAS president Abdul Hadi had said his party was ready to assist the Umno-led state government in its plans to do so.