Friday, April 24, 2009

The other side of Hudud

The other side of Hudud
24 Apr, 2009

If Suk Yee is proven to be really poor and needs to steal out of necessity, then the authorities would be summoned to court and would be asked how come Suk Yee is so poor that she needs to steal.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Poor pregnant mum jailed a day and fined RM1,000

JOHOR BARU: A pregnant woman was sentenced to one day in jail and fined RM1,000 after she told a Magistrates court she stole baby clothes worth over RM150 because she was too poor to pay for it.

Housewife Chai Suk Yee, 26, from Taman Daya, was charged with committing the offence at Level 2 of Jusco Tebrau City at around 3.30pm on April 23.

She was accused of stealing a list of 10 items of baby clothes and accessories worth RM158.70.

Chai, who pleaded guilty, told Magistrate Hafizah Johor Ariff Johor that she took the clothes for her unborn child because she could not afford to buy the clothes.

She also said that she was unemployed and her husband did not have a stable job.

Hafizah then sentenced her to one day jail and an RM1,000 fine or one month jail if the fine was not paid. Chai paid the fine.


The detractors of Islam love to talk about hand cutting. They are of course referring to the Islamic Shariah law called Hudud, which deals with seven specific crimes. Hudud, for the uninitiated, is only one of the many Shariah laws. But this appears to be the only Shariah law yet to be introduced in Malaysia. The others are already in place.

Okay, before anyone jumps on my case, let me categorically state that I am opposed to Malaysia being turned into a theocracy. And, no, it is not because I am anti-Islam. It is because Malaysia has a parliamentary system that chooses its government using the Westminster system and therefore that makes Malaysia a secular and not theocratic state.

If they run a referendum and, say, 66.6% of Malaysians vote for the parliamentary system to be abolished and for the Federal Constitution to be amended so that Malaysia can be turned into a theocracy, then I have no problems with that since it represents the wishes of 66.6% of Malaysians. For that matter, if 66.6% of Malaysians pass a referendum to turn Malaysia into a Republic I also would have no problems with that.

Okay, back to the issue of the Star’s news item above. Malaysia is NOT a theocracy, and for sure not an Islamic State. And, therefore, we have common law and not Hudud law. So Chai Suk Yee, the poor pregnant woman in the report above, will not lose her hand for the crime of stealing baby clothes worth RM158. Instead, she goes to jail.

But that is just it. Even if we did have Hudud as the law of the land she would still not be punished anyway. Now, Suk Yee has to go to jail for one day and pay a fine of RM1,000 -- or else go to jail for another month if she fails to pay the fine. Can you imagine a pregnant woman having to go to jail for 31 or 32 days because she was too poor and had no choice but to steal baby clothes?

Under Hudud law, Suk Yee would be asked why she stole. And if the thief is as rich as Daim Zainuddin who steals not because he is poor but because he is just downright greedy, then even I agree that his hand should be chopped off. I mean, RM42 billion of the raykat’s money not enough or what? Still have to steal RM158 baby clothes on top of that?

If Suk Yee is proven to be really poor and needs to steal out of necessity, then the authorities would be summoned to court and would be asked how come Suk Yee is so poor that she needs to steal. Assuming Suk Yee was not getting any aid from the government -- maybe because she is not a Bumiputera and not an Umno member -- then those in charge of dishing out aid would be chided by the court.

The court would order that the state looks after Suk Yee. And if the state fails to do so, then those in charge would face the wrath of the court. Suk Yee would not be punished. The state would. And the state would be punished because it did not look after Suk Yee resulting in her being forced to steal for a living.

That is the other side of Hudud never discussed. Okay, okay, okay, I know. Now some of you are going to argue that Hudud may not be that bad after all but you are more worried about the implementation or abuse of that law. What happens if someone is fixed up and loses a hand because of that? You can’t sew the hand back on.

True. But the same goes for all other ‘less-cruel-than-Hudud’ laws as well. If they plant bullets or drugs in your car and then send you to the gallows for this, can they bring you back to life if later they discover you have been fixed up? Once you are dead you are dead. They cannot reverse your death after hanging you from the gallows even if they find you innocent later.

So it is not about whether Hudud can be abused or not. All laws can be abused. The issue is not only in the laws itself, but also in how they abuse those laws. For that matter, the Internal Security Act, as it was originally intended, is a good law. But the ISA is never used as it was originally intended. It is used to silence dissent and opposition. So we oppose the ISA because it is being abused.

Okay, say the government abolishes the ISA as what we want. Do you think that is the end of our problems? No! There are still many other laws, other than the ISA, which the government can use to stifle dissent and curtail free speech.

More important than abolishing the ISA and all those other laws would be to abolish the present government. Then the laws would not be abused. Then people like Suk Yee would not go to jail because she was too poor and had to steal RM158 worth of baby clothes.

By the way, if anyone can help me track down Suk Yee I would like to reimburse her the fine of RM1,000 that she paid. It is my duty as a Muslim to ensure that poor people do not become victims of a cruel system. Doing otherwise would mean I have failed in my duty as a Muslim. Just drop me a message and I will get back to you.

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