Friday, March 20, 2015

The hypocrisy of hudud in Kelantan

The Kelantan Chief Minister, Ahmad Yaakob, must be relishing his success. He was able to get 13 Muslim assemblymen from UMNO and PKR to unanimously vote for the amendment to the Syariah Criminal Code 1993 to implement hudud law. He also succeeded in creating further polarization and anguish amongst all Malaysians while thumbing his nose at the Malaysian Constitution. Clearly Ahmad Yaakob and his proxies do not believe in an inclusive Malaysia (and I am sure he does not read my blog). I wish he would though as he might just be reminded of a thing or two.

Kelantan remains the poorest state in Malaysia due to the incompetence and misrule of Ahmad Yaakob and his predecessors fueled by the political chicanery between UMNO and PAS. The average household income in Kelantan today is the lowest in Malaysia and is about a third of a household in Kuala Lumpur. Kelantan has the highest infant mortality rate in the country. The risk of a new born child in Kelantan to die before reaching age 5 is twice higher than that of a child in Kuala Lumpur. By very conservative estimates, 15% of children in Kelantan live in poverty while at least 7% are under-nourished. There is one doctor in Kelantan for every 500 children (compared to one doctor for 80 children in Kuala Lumpur).
Instead of proper nutrition, health care, quality infrastructure, education, skills, jobs and higher income, the poor in Kelantan can instead now look forward to hudud law. There is no evidence that Kelantan has a dramatically higher rate of hudud crimes than the rest of Malaysia. Nor is there any evidence that Muslims in Kelantan have a higher proclivity towards fornication, homosexuality, alcohol consumption, apostasy and stealing thus requiring draconian deterrent punishments to keep them in line.

On the other hand, Kelantan’s poverty is in shocking contrast to the oil revenues flowing from the state to the coffers in Putrajaya. It is estimated that at least RM 1 billion in oil revenues that rightfully belong to the people of Kelantan is being denied them by the BN government (read UMNO). One would think that this would be the priority of Ahmad Yaakob and his assemblymen, voting unanimously across party lines to seek legal recourse to recover the state’s wealth to improve the lives of the poor rather than impose medieval punishment on them.
Under the misrule of the supposedly pious and spiritual leadership, the rich cultural heritage of Kelantan embodied in such arts as wayang kulit, mak yong and dikir barat has been systematically denigrated. Instead, the Muslims in Kelantan are being directed to look towards the likes of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan to emulate cultural practices that are completely alien to Malay traditions. In the meantime, Kelantan’s rich biodiversity is being destroyed and the poor bear the brunt of devastating floods caused by the wanton destruction of watershed areas due to state sanctioned logging, poor planning and weak control of development.

It is time for the people of Kelantan to reject the hypocrisy of Ahmad Yaakob and his kind and punish them in the next elections. Kelantan does not deserve to be marginalized from the rest of Malaysia.