KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Datuk Zaid Ibrahim challenged PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang today to seek amendments to the Federal Constitution and have Islamic criminal law apply to all Malaysians.
The outspoken former politician also issued the same challenge to the prime minister and to former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad, who wrote recently that hudud punishments for offences like murder, rape, theft and robbery could easily be implemented on both non-Muslims and Muslims by amending the Penal Code.
“Do not be afraid and don’t hide behind the Act 355 amendment,” Zaid wrote on his blog, referring to Hadi’s private member’s Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355).
“Tell the people your grand plan; and if you want Islam à la Taliban, then let the Islamised criminal law of the land apply to everyone. Equality before the law, after all, is a central tenet of our nation enshrined in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution,” he added.
Zaid said Abdul Hamid was wrong and that the Federal Constitution must first be amended to declare Malaysia to be an Islamic state, where all laws must conform to the tenets of Islam, before hudud punishments can be introduced.
“In this, they should follow the Constitutions of the Maldives or Saudi Arabia. It would also be helpful if our Federal Court were to convene a special hearing to reject the Supreme Court’s decision in Che Omar Che Soh v PP  2 MLJ 55, which declared the Federal Constitution to be a secular one,” said Zaid.
Zaid accused the government of subverting the core principles of the Federal Constitution, pointing out that criminal law was part of the general law of the land and applied to everyone, but the prime minister and Hadi purportedly wanted Islamic criminal law to apply only to Muslims.
He said Muslim law is personal law in Malaysia, in that it applies only to Muslims.
“The very distinction of personal law and general law exists only in a secular Constitution — there is no such distinction in a theocracy,” said Zaid.
“If the prime minister wants a religious Shariah-compliant country, he should see that, as it stands, the Act 355 amendment is a merely set of half-baked half-measures that serve no purpose,” he added.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said last month that the government would take over Hadi’s Bill that proposes to increase Shariah punishment caps to a maximum 30 years’ imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane.
PAS is planning a rally on February 18 to demonstrate support for Hadi’s Bill, while a movement called BEBAS is organising a counter rally on the same day.