As a senior doctor who has been practising medicine close to 40 years I was appalled by the statement of the Deputy Menteri Besar of Kelantan reported in the Star dated May 25, 2014. He had said that amputations for theft would be done 'properly by surgeons and that after a period of rest the amputee can return to be with his family at home and need not be interred in a prison'. It sounded like a comforting advice that we give to a patient who just had a major operation.
In this respect I fully agree with the Prime Minister that Malaysia is not ready for the hudud laws. I would like to go further to say that Malaysia as a civilized nation must never implement the hudud laws. I am a non-Muslim but I have the greatest respect for Islam and have absolutely no intention to be anti Islamic in any way. Islam has been reminded to the world that it is a tolerant religion. Therefore what the Prime Minister has implied about the introduction and implementation of the hudud laws is to be commended. His reservation about its introduction is very wise taking into account the multiracial nature of our nation with its diverse peoples, culture and religion. Malaysia is well recognised in the world as a country that has people of different ethnicity living in relative harmony. The introduction of the hudud laws in Malaysia will destroy this notion and cast Malaysia backwards as a developing and modern nation. The draconian and inhumane punishment meted out to offenders will be viewed as barbaric practices quite anachronistic with accepted norms of civilized human behaviour in this modern age and era.
Non-Muslims will be affected by the hudud laws although not in a direct way. For example if a non Muslim girl is raped by a Muslim man and she cannot produce four creditable witnesses to witness the rape, then under the hudud laws there is no rape. On the contrary she can be charged as an adulterer and the rapist will escape scot-free. Is this fair to the girl? Under such circumstances, under which jurisdiction will the case be judged? The syariah court or the conventional court? The stoning to death of adulterers? If this law is applied, many may risk being stoned to death in Malaysia. What happens if the couple is a Muslim and a non-Muslim couple? Which court will judge?
The amputation of the hands of thieves was practised in the days where the laws were not so refined. It was a punishment meant to send a signal to criminals that their misdemeanour can have a painful ending. However times have changed. Surely nowadays we have better laws to deal with the whole spectrum of crime encountered. Indeed if a person steals 20 cans of sardines to feed his starving family he should not have his hand chopped off but the social services should be alerted and help him instead.
Crime nowadays has become more sophisticated. Theft is not just limited to the 20 cans of sardines. It can run into millions. Cyber crime is widespread. White-collar crime is daily news. Where do you start your amputation and to my simple thinking, are hudud laws geared to cope with crime of the modern era?
If the promulgation of modern laws is primarily to educate and rehabilitate in addition to its punitive element, then these laws should be used in modern society rather than controversial and inhumane laws like the hudud laws.
I fully agree with the President of the MMA that any doctor who performs such 'judicial amputations' should be referred to the MMC and be deregistered and be barred from practising medicine. As a senior doctor and former academician I am appalled at the signals test we may send to our medical students. Is this what we want to teach our medical students that the way we deal with thieves is to amputate their hands?
Lastly, as a citizen living in this beautiful multiracial country of ours, let us live in peace and harmony, respecting each other's religions, beliefs and cultural practices. Let us show the world an example of moderation and racial harmony. In this respect, let us be a true leader of the world.