Malaysian State Legislature Passes Bill on Strict Islamic Criminal Code
Associated Press, July 8, 2002
By Sean Yoong
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Defying heavy criticism,
Muslim fundamentalists passed a bill in a state legislature Monday that would
impose harsh Islamic criminal laws, including death by stoning for adultery
and cutting off hands and feet for theft.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has accused the Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party
of encouraging extremism and vowed that the federal government will block the
law from being implemented in the northeastern state of Terengganu, which the
The state government in Kelantan, the other Malaysian state controlled by
the Islamic opposition party, passed similar laws in 1993 but they have never
been enforced because of federal government objections.
Terengganu Chief Minister Abdul Hadi Awang introduced the bill Sunday in
the state legislature, where his party controls 28 of 32 seats.
Under the code, a robber who kills his victim can be sentenced to death and
crucified. A thief’s right hand is amputated for his first offense, and his
left foot for the second. A Muslim who renounces Islam is punished by death.
Sodomy and adultery are punishable by death by stoning. Muslims who consume
alcohol can be whipped up to 80 times.
Voting on the bill was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but Islamic party
officials wanted it sooner, said Rosol Wahid, one of four Terengganu
legislators belonging to Mahathir’s United Malays National Organization.
Rosol said a ballot was conducted at about 5.30 p.m. local time (0930 GMT),
past the legislature’s regular hours. All 28 Islamic party members voted for
the bill, while the four UMNO lawmakers abstained, he said.
Rosol said that the UMNO legislators didn’t vote against the bill
outright so that the fundamentalists could not brand them as being bad
"We have vigorously objected to the bill," Rosol told The
Associated Press. "We believe that this is a politically motivated effort
by their party to win support by appearing to be more Islamic."
The bill still needs approval from Terengganu’s sultan, who is the state’s
constitutional ruler, and must subsequently be brought to the federal
Parliament because it involves criminal laws.
The Islamic party, which competes with Mahathir’s party for votes from
Malay Muslims, who make up more than 60 percent of Malaysia’s 23 million
people, has defended the bill.
"Although our penalties are harsh and terrifying, we must realize that
these offenses and sins ... are truly evil and despicable," Abdul Hadi
told the assembly, 450 kilometers (280 miles) northeast of Kuala Lumpur, on
Abdul Hadi, a hardliner, has been the party’s acting president since the
death of more moderate leader Fadzil Noor on June 23 following recent heart
The so-called hudud code would apply only to the Muslim majority in
Terengganu, but it worries the non-Muslim minority and has been portrayed by
Mahathir at the national level as evidence that the fundamentalists twist the
tolerant teachings of Islam.
In Terengganu and Kelantan, the fundamentalists have imposed—but unevenly
enforced—rules banning gambling outlets and the open sale of alcohol, and
forced shops to have separate payment counters for men and women.
The Terengganu state government is also considering rules banning bikinis
from beaches, though tourism is a pillar of the local economy.
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