Former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad is a strange man. He once occupied the highest post in our judiciary and he took the oath that he would defend the Federal Constitution.
I did not expect him to be made Chief Justice but he was. Today, he receives a pension and other benefits as a former Chief Justice but has become a fierce critic of the Constitution, which is the very thing that made his former position as well as the perks he currently enjoys possible.
He is not a happy man. He wants Islamic criminal law — hudud — to be the basis of Malaysian law. In response to those who oppose PAS’ plan to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), Tun Abdul Hamid said that the Government could simply amend other legislation such as the Penal Code to introduce hudud-like laws.
In other words, he was telling non-Muslims to count their blessings and not oppose the Act 355 amendment. If they were to oppose it, the Prime Minister could simply amend the Penal Code and introduce hudud for everyone.
This former Chief Justice is wrong. The Prime Minister, with the support of PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and others, must first amend the Federal Constitution. The Constitution must first declare Malaysia to be an Islamic state — that is, a religious state — and that all laws must conform to the tenets of Islam.
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. It is only with these fundamental changes that the Prime Minister can amend the Penal Code and related legislation so that hudud can be entrenched in this country.
That’s what a gentleman — or at least a committed Islamist à la the Taliban — would do. In our country, however, there are many hypocrites. Some are politicians, some are civil servants and some are former judges. They have ganged together to come up with the Act 355 amendment, which effectively metes out hudud-like punishments for Muslims convicted of crimes.
Proponents of the amendment tell Muslims that this is to “defend Islam’s honour” and that it is a “sin” not to support them. This is how they think they (and the Barisan Nasional) will get the votes at the coming General Election. They also say that the Act 355 amendment does not apply to non-Muslims and so they think non-Muslims will be so grateful that they also will vote for the BN.
So I challenge the Prime Minister, Hadi and the former Chief Justice to amend the Federal Constitution. Do not be afraid and don’t hide behind the Act 355 amendment. 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.
What the Government is currently doing is subverting the core principles of the Constitution. Criminal law, like contract law, is part of the general law of the land and applies to everyone. However, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Hadi want to make Islamic criminal law apply only to Muslims (because of votes).
Muslim law is personal law in this country — that is, it applies to Muslims only. The very distinction of personal law and general law exists only in a secular Constitution — there is no such distinction in a theocracy. So the Prime Minister, who sees himself as a statesman, needs to come clean on what Malaysia will be like in 50 years under his TN50 masterplan. Does he want half the country to be governed by Taliban-type law and the other half by secular law? How will this transformation plan work for the betterment of our country?
If he wants a full-blown Taliban state in Malaysia then Hadi and other PAS supporters are entitled to an explanation from him about why he is so scared to make Malaysia an Islamic state by amending the Constitution.
He should put this aspiration in the Barisan Nasional manifesto for the coming General Election and use the 18 February rally with PAS to set the wheels in motion for a Constitutional amendment. There will be no need for the Act 355 amendment then.
As I said, the distinction between general law and personal law exists only in a secular set-up. 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.
Malays and Muslims also need to know from Najib if men and women have to sit in separate seats on buses and aeroplanes soon. Under his watch it has become dangerous to ride with someone of the opposite sex on a motorcycle without being married to the other person — if you touch each other, even accidentally, it’s an offence.
Malays and Muslims want to know how far the Prime Minister is willing to go to transform Malaysia into a Taliban country just to win the General Election. However, I suspect that Malays will reject his Taliban project because most of them are more interested in knowing how they can pay their PTPTN and Felda loans. In this regard, the Opposition has a better plan, I assure you.