History will record that the Terengganu PAS Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas Bill) was the final blow that destroyed the  Barisan Alternative effort  to create a two-coalition system

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Wednesday): History will record that the passage of the Terengganu PAS Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) Bill by the Terengganu State Assembly on 7th July 2002 was the final blow that destroyed the Barisan Alternative effort to create a two-coalition system. 

The Barisan Alternative was at one time the hope of Malaysians who wanted to see an end to the uninterrupted  political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional which had spawned such a host of  injustices and inequalities in the country, trampling on democracy and human rights, most vividly highlighted by the Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Guan Eng cases  – starting with the denial of the unbroken Barisan Nasional two-thirds parliamentary majority in the 1999 general election based on the Barisan Alternative Common Manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia”, to be followed hopefully in the subsequent general election by a change of government. 

Now all these hopes have been reduced to ashes by the final and irreparable blow of the Terengganu PAS Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) Bill and the insensitive statements and pronouncements by PAS leaders, in particular the PAS Acting President, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang when winding up the debate on the bill, declaring that  PAS would impose the hudud and qisas laws to even non-Muslims in the state “when every citizen understands them”.

The Star’s   front-page headline  yesterday “Terengganu says Islamic law will eventually cover non-Muslims” was confirmed by a senior aide to Hadi, Zahari Mohamad, who confirmed with  the Associated Press writer, Jasbant Singh that  Hadi's remarks were correctly reported and that  the Islamic  laws would be imposed on non-Muslims if PAS  “topples Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's secular government in the next general elections scheduled for 2004”.

Jasbant Singh quoted Zahari as saying: "We cannot enforce Islamic laws as the supreme law of the country unless federal legislation is amended. We have to form the federal government to be able to do that.''

The Terengganu PAS Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) Bill will have far-reaching political impact in the country, starting with the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections in Kedah as it is against the Malaysian Constitution, violates human rights, discriminate against women,  destroys the whole basis of the 1999 Barisan Alternative Common Manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” and flouts strong and widespread objections by the civil society.

Hadi and PAS leaders have made baseless claims about the Bill, as for instance claiming that the hudud law will ensure a safe and peaceful  society that is free from crime as exemplified in countries like Saudi Arabia.

For the information of Hadi, Saudi Arabia was one of the six countries specifically mentioned by Amnesty International at the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in March this year  for its deepening concern about the state of human rights in the country.

Amnesty International told the Human Rights Commission that it “continues  to be deeply concerned that the criminal justice system in Saudi Arabia is one that leads to serious and systematic violations of human rights and that this is sustained by the level of secrecy which surrounds the system.”

The Amnesty International’s brief to the Human Rights Commission said:

“Systematic torture and ill-treatment in Saudi Arabian prisons and police stations continue to be reported and the authorities fail to ensure prompt and impartial investigations. … Amnesty International is also deeply concerned at the continued imposition of corporal punishments such as amputation, a form of torture, and flogging, which it considers may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

Hadi was not correct when he claimed that it is only on rare occasions that people convicted of offences are punished under the hudud, that “may be, there would be one or two cases in 10 or more years” as he told a dialogue organized by PAS’ women wing, Dewan Muslimat in Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur on 29th June 2002.

In its brief to the Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International said that during 2001, it  recorded 79 executions in Saudi Arabia – “all were sentenced to a death after trials which fall far short of international standards of fair trial”.

Amnesty International also expressed grave concern at the “severe discrimination against women” in Saudi Arabia which “put them at increased risk of domestic violence”.

If the full facts about the system of criminal justice and the state of human rights in Saudi Arabia are made known to Malaysians, no  political leader would use Saudi Arabia as a model for Malaysia to emulate.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman