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Answering Azimah Rahim


An article published by the Malay Mail Online, on 14 February 2017, titled “RUU355 amendments inhumane — Azimah Rahim” explained how the proposed Bill to amend Act 355 is unacceptable. Looking at the entire article there are a few issues that we would like to address. One of the arguments was that the bill is “rushed”. Perhaps the word “rushed” needs a new definition altogether. How can a bill be said to be “rushed” when it is being tabled after 32 years? Maybe in another realm where people have discovered a fault in the time space continuum, three decades could be considered hasty.

Adding to that, it was also stated “…but which excludes the amputation of limbs and the death penalty.” this makes it even more obvious that this bill is not about hudud.

The primary concern of the writer is about inhumanity due to the “extreme” increment in the penalties. The writer says Islam is about justice, fairness and peace, no doubt that we agree with this idea. However there is a point of concern, or rather a straw man fallacy by the writer about the concept of justice. Perchance we should loosen up the legal system so that criminals are not burdened by the punishments.

Taking into consideration mercy, compassion and forgiveness, the civil court could alleviate punishments for rapists. According to a writer, a fellow Muslim cannot demand such absurdity to befall another Muslim. In other words, if a Muslim is to commit a crime he or she should be forgiven and allowed to live a peaceful and tranquil life. This idea could make the experience of rape ostensibly easier on the rapist. The following bit is more interesting,

“A single Muslim woman is raped and to prove her innocence she has to produce four witnesses who are male, Muslim and who have to meet stringent criteria that has been specifically laid down”.

First thing first, Act 355 does not carry any punishment for rape. This is because the punishments that can be executed under this Act are limited to crimes mentioned in Item 1, State List, 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution. Rape as it is is not listed. Secondly, for a rape victim, under the Syariah, she does not have to bring forth four witnesses let alone produce male eyewitnesses of stringent criteria. The thing is, if there were four men attentively viewing the entire incident, they should be charged for failure to prevent crime. What were they possibly thinking watching such cruelty take place? The definition and meaning of rape is not equivalent to that of adultery, and hence the punishments should not be confused either.

The idea of amending Act 355 is to increase the ceiling for the punishments under the Syariah courts, this does not mean all the offences listed under the Act would carry maximum punishment. The rate of punishment for a specific crime can be discussed at the respective State Assemblies. In other words any amount of penalty is fine as long as it does not exceed the limits set by the Parliament.

One other disturbing statement was “Hadi’s Bill is not what Islam is about but a paganistic interpretation of God’s law.” How can a law be paganistic if it is derived from the Qur’an and Hadith? The claim by and of itself is an oxymoron. Pagans do not refer to the Qur’an or the Hadith pertaining jurisprudence.

“Stand by God’s law and oppose the Bill. Stand by the Bill and you oppose God’s law.” As mentioned earlier, the Syariah is based on divine revelation from God Himself. How is it possible that the opposition to God’s law is by opposing Syariah?

As an example, in 2015 a man was sentenced to 10 years of prison by the civil court for stealing rise and sardines, is that humane? Syariah system as it is in Malaysia has its jurisdiction of power limited to a select few crimes. The punishments for pimping in the current system is RM 5,000, an amount the pimp probably makes in a day or two. The low penalties that exist today fail to deter criminals, the modification to the Act is necessary to serve as a short term deterrent. As for the long term, there is no substitute for better education.

The arguments presented are half baked and do not bear much substance. Complete with multiple logical fallacies in every sentence, the liberals display their talent in a rather premature manner. This is definitely not expected from people who “strive” for the freedom of speech and liberty. Haply there is some intellectual wisdom somewhere in the ideology, but it is absent from many of her followers.