06 June 2016
After months of trying, Malaysia’s Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) finally succeeded in tabling the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016, also referred to as the “Syariah Bill”, in Parliament.
The move is seen as part of PAS’ long-term aim to introduce hudud, or Islamic criminal law, in the northern state of Kelantan, which is under its control. While attempts to implement hudud laws are not new, the perceived support by the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno) for the Bill tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has caused an uproar both domestically and internationally. Notably, Ms Azalina Othman Said, the Umno minister-in-charge of Parliament who surprised many by fast-tracking Mr Hadi’s Bill from the last item on the queue to the first, explained over the weekend that she was merely acting under the instructions of the leader of the House and the Chief Whip. The leader of the House is Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Razak while the Chief Whip is Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also an Umno vice-president.
While it is unlikely that the Bill will be passed, the hudud issue reveals once again the extent Malaysian politicians would go to in securing political support from the Malay populace in the country. The long-term implication of the Bill will prove divisive and could break the inter-religious harmony long enjoyed in the country.
… Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman is Coordinator of Malaysia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. Aida Arosoaie is a Senior Analyst at RSIS.
GPO / IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 06/06/2016