Hudud’s unlikely supporters: Young, well-off and internet-savvy Malays – By Zurairi Ar

The Malay Mail Online | KUALA LUMPUR, 16-Jul-2014 ― The latest survey by independent pollster Merdeka Center has revealed an unlikely truth about the nation’s ethnic Malays: those in their 20s, with access to internet and alternative media, and earning more than RM5,000 a month are likely to support controversial hudud laws being implemented in Malaysia.

According to the survey results released today, 71 per cent of Malays polled said they supported hudud laws.

But for Malays between 21 and 30 years of age, the proportion swelled to 83 per cent.

Among Malays with access to alternative media, a whopping 90 per cent supported hudud while 86 per cent of Malay households with an income above RM5,000 a month also backed the controversial laws.

In comparison, only 61 per cent of Malays with a household income below RM1,500, 69 per cent of those earning between RM1,500 and RM3,000 and 80 per cent with earnings between RM3,000 and RM5,000 supported hudud laws.

However, 59 per cent of those polled said they felt the country was not ready to implement the laws, with 51 per cent saying they believe it would not be implemented fairly.Malays are by definition also Muslims.

In the wider population, the survey found that more than half support the controversial Islamic penal code at 53 per cent, including 31 per cent who said they strongly supported it.

The survey also found that civil servants and staff of government-linked companies are more likely to support hudud. Seventy-nine per cent of Malays in this category support the laws.

While urban Malays were more likely to support hudud, there were more supporters of hudud across the races in rural areas.

The survey polled 1,009 voters in Peninsula Malaysia via telephone in their preferred language between April 12 and 21 this year.

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.

The debate over hudud is raging once more in Malaysia after PAS made known its plan to enforce the Islamic criminal law in Kelantan state which it has governed since 1990.

The news then led to baiting between the Islamist party and rival Umno over the controversial bid to amend the country’s laws to allow the introduction of hudud.

Last month, Selangor Umno assemblymen proposed a study on the feasibility of implementing hudud in the state, but withdrew it at the 11th hour.

Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has allegedly proposed, in a working paper by its Shariah-Civil Technical Committee, that hudud to be rolled out nationwide in two stages.

In May, PAS said it will delay tabling two Parliamentary private members’ bills needed to pave the way for the enforcement of hudud in Kelantan, to allow a proposed bipartisan committee to study the implementation of the Islamic penal code.

Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also said his party will push for a national-level committee on hudud.

Muhyiddin, who is also deputy prime minister, said both local and foreign experts on hudud would sit in the proposed committee. The specifics of the committee remain under wraps.