Let’s get to it. A national referendum on the acceptability of Hudud.
The Hudud — in as much as people understand it, Muslim or not — has to be resolved, well at least for this generation.
Umno and Pas are stuck by its religious significance and political merit, but neither is actually willing to engage it in a meaningful way.
The impasse can be broken by taking the pulse of the nation over the matter. Do Malaysians actually favour a serious consideration of Hudud?
The scope of asking
It cannot be a definitive poll of whether to implement the hudud, since there is a huge hole in the understanding of Hudud, and the code being implemented in some countries would just not wash in Malaysia.
So the question would be simpler, should Malaysians allow for religious tenets — as practiced by the Shafie school largely — form the criminal code.
And no, you can’t have a dual system for criminal cases. There are enough unconstitutional measures, policies and rules in the name of Islam in the country.
Today I was told by my council president that there is a state directive to ban the sale of alcohol to Muslims in entertainment outlets in Selangor. I was appalled.
Last year, they arrested a few people in Pahang for consuming alcohol and they now face RM5,000 fines and Syariah style caning.
Selangor does not go about enforcing these directives usually — unless you look at the Shah Alam raid in August last year — but surely the religious department is aware that denying the right of Malaysians to pursue their personal choices is unconstitutional.
The basic limitations of Syariah Courts to just family law had been compromised, to many people’s chagrin.
But I am sure there are many people who would argue with me that the extension of the powers of the syariah courts has been justified and in line with the democratic will of the people.
We cannot go back to a time before, and review the heinous decisions by Mahathir to Islamise the country beyond the constitutional powers allowed to him, nor the calamitous illogical decisions made by judges to appease religious populism in the last two decades.
The only way to see if there is widespread support for Hudud, is to have a referendum, and look at the numbers.
If most Malaysians — and I will bet good money on me being in the majority — don’t want Hudud to be considered, examined or weighed seriously for implementation, then the Hudud-istas have to back down, on both Pas and Umno, for the foreseeable future.
The will to test
I’m convinced both Pas and Umno don’t want a democratic count of the people who do want a criminal code to replace the one already present — on grounds of religion.
They would be mortified if the Muslim vote especially, does not necessarily follow expectations.
Just being born a Muslim does not mean that you have a complete profile of a person.
A sense of closure
At least DAP will know how Malaysians weigh this question.
And politically we as a country can move forward. The Indonesians had a similar plebiscite to look at the viability and the support base for an Islamic state. The legislators, many of them from Islam-based parties votes for a secular state.
Do we always want to be a country that keeps repeating the same issues with no willingness to bring the matter to its logical conclusion? A nation in a flux permanently, is the apt term for the moral and political constipation stirred on by parties on both sides of the debate.
If the test shows that enough support is there for the study of Hudud in view of implementation, then once that code is ready, we can put it up for a national plebiscite.
The country has issues with crime. It is not the criminal punishment processes that are failing us, just bad societal response to crime.
Our community allows for the factors that lead to crime, and we are often disinterested to play a role in crime prevention.
The police are just bureaucrats in blue, with guns.
I’d be interested to hear from Pas and Umno, real policies to tackle the rise of crime, and look at socio-economic changes that would hinder crime as a viable choice for the desperate.
But that might be too much to ask for parties that are bent on just winning the religious arguments against each other, and not worry about the practical affectations they bring, nor the direness that burdens the system in the present.