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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

BEST INSIGHT: Hudud punishes POOR THIEF but ignores grand corruption - ex TNB chief Ani Arope

BEST INSIGHT: Hudud punishes POOR THIEF but ignores grand corruption - ex TNB chief Ani Arope
KUALA LUMPUR - Former corporate icon Tan Sri Ani Arope has joined the debate over hudud’s suitability to modern-day Malaysia, highlighting the disparity of the Islamic penal code’s severe punishment for common theft but silence over grand corruption.
Posting on his personal Facebook page yesterday, the man who ran national energy utility Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) from 1990 to 1996 said the discrepancy suggested that the Islamic code opposition party PAS is attempting to enforce in Kelantan merits further examination.
“If a destitute (person) picks up a can of milk for his starving baby in a supermarket and walks out without paying, under the [divine law] ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ he gets his hands chopped off.
“But a man with power and authority awards contracts and gets kickbacks and commissions will not suffer the same fate as the man who took a can of milk. We need to study this in depth and with the times,” he wrote in his post.
In Islamic jurisprudence, hudud covers crimes such as theft, robbery, adultery, rape and sodomy. Punishments for the crimes are severe, including amputation, flogging and death by stoning.
While corruption is considered sinful in the religion, its criminal system does not prescribe specific punishments for the act despite the greater implications of grand corruption versus petty theft.
Malaysia fights a perennial battle against corruption that has seen it form the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and formalise the country’s efforts against graft as part of Putrajaya’s National Key Results Area (NKRA) for its Government Transformation Programme (GTP).
In the recently released Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International, the country came in 53rd in a list of 177 countries or one rung better than it managed before.
Aside from the discrepancy he pointed out, responses to Ani’s post yesterday also revealed the confusion and misconceptions that surround hudud law.
Despite his assertion that the shoplifting parent would lose his hands for the theft, a Facebook user pointed out that punishment in hudud operated on a sliding scale depending on the severity of the offence and the strength of the conviction, as well as the circumstances of the crime.
“[Tan Sri], this is incorrect, stealing during famine or starvation is not considered theft and therefore would not get one’s hand chop off [sic],” a user posting under the name Rahmi Deraman said in response.
Another concurred, saying that the value of the item stolen was taken into consideration when punishment was meted out.
PAS is planning to table two private members’ bills that will allow it to enforce hudud in Kelantan; one seeks punishments for crimes under hudud as part of the Penal Code while another seeks to empower the Shariah courts to mete out the sentences.
But the attempt to enforce an Islamic version of criminal law that overlaps with the existing Penal Code has raised questions over the role of Islam in secular Malaysia.
Civil lawyers contend that hudud is unconstitutional as it would lead to discrimination based on religion.
Questions over the possible jurisdictional nightmares also abound as overlaps between the civil courts that apply universally and the shariah system that is restricted to Muslims already demonstrate the crossover that occurs despite assertions that Islamic law does not affect non-Muslims.

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