Top Catholic bishop tells non-Muslims to support hudud in Kelantan
Sep 23: A top Catholic bishop has thrown his support for the implementation of the Islamic criminal laws stipulating deterrent punishment on serious crimes, or hudud, in Kelantan, provided non-Muslims were given "a cast-iron guarantee that it will not be implemented on us".
In comments on the issue sparked by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's challenge to Kelantan Menteri Besar Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, Dr Paul Tan (picture) Chee Ing, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia, said it was wise for non-Muslims not to oppose such laws among Muslims "if they so desire".
“I say it's time to allow Muslims in Kelantan, if they so desire, to implement shariah only for them and with that the hudud enactments provided non-Muslims are exempt from its implementation,” online news portal Malaysiakini quoted Dr Paul, also the titular head of Catholics in the Melaka-Johor diocese, as saying.
His comments come in the wake of a statement by Mahathir that Nik Aziz should implement hudud in Kelantan now that the former was no longer the prime minister who had once sent a letter warning the PAS-led state against any attempt to introduce the Islamic laws.
In response, Nik Aziz said a prime ministerial decree would not expire with Mahathir's resignation, and called on the current PM Najib Razak to revoke the Federal government's earlier stance on the issue.
Giving his views, Dr Paul said the issue had to do with the debate between two different Islamic schools of theology, the 'rationalists' or Mu'tazilites, and the 'traditionalists', or Ash'arites.
"I don't know if that extraordinary man, the Kelantan menteri besar (Nik Aziz Nik Mat), is a Mutazilite or an Asharite. Sometimes he sounds like a Mu'tazilite, sometimes like an Ash'arite," said Dr Paul, who added that such an ambiguity was "a good thing".
"It shows he is not dogmatic. I say let him and all who hold with him have their way so long as non-Muslims have iron-clad guarantees of their exemption. I am in favour of Kelantan Muslims having hudud implemented for them only," the portal quoted him.
Prior to this, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (left) said he was personally in favour of hudud laws being introduced in Kelantan as it would ensure justice.
Earlier, the issue, regarded as highly contentious and which in the past created rifts between DAP and PAS, has instead laid bare cracks between MCA and UMNO.
MCA president Chua Soi Lek said the Chinese-based party would leave the Barisan Nasional coalition if UMNO supported hudud laws. This was in response to UMNO deputy president Muhyiddin Yasin's cautioned comments on Kelantan's long-fought battle with the Federal government over hudud, saying he was obligated as a Muslim to support hudud but differed on the timing of its implementation. -HD (eng)