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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Malaysian police to ignore Islamic law
Officers from the Royal Malaysian Police
Police officers have been ordered to follow federal rules
Malaysian police have said they will not enforce the Islamic justice system approved in an opposition-ruled state.


We have been given guidelines on what we should do and shouldn't do

Police spokesman

Terengganu's state government, dominated by the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS), passed the "hudud" penal code, which proposes, among other things, chopping off thieves' hands and feet and stoning adulterers to death.

PAS wants the hudud, the criminal section of Islam's Sharia law, to apply to Muslims in the state in place of Malaysia's federal criminal code.

But that has been rejected by the federal government which has instructed police to stick with the old rules.

A Malaysian Muslim boy
Half of Malaysia's population is Muslim, but in Terengganu the proportion is about 95%
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's administration has said Islamic law is not appropriate for the multi-religious country.

The government says PAS has bypassed the constitution in trying to introduce hudud in Terengganu, where about 95% of the population is Muslim.

A police spokesman in Kuala Terengganu, about 450 kilometres (280 miles) north-east of the national capital Kuala Lumpur, said: "We have been given guidelines on what we should do and shouldn't do."

'God's laws'

The PAS-led state assembly in Terengganu said it wanted to eventually extend "God's laws" to non-Muslims.

It said it should be able to implement the justice system as it involved religious matters which come under state purview.

Map of Malaysia showing Terengganu state
The hudud bill still needs to be sent to the state ruler for endorsement before it becomes law.

But the federal government could then still block the law under its constitutional powers.

PAS tried in 1993 to impose the hudud in neighbouring Kelantan state, which it also controls, but the move was vetoed by the federal government.

See also:

08 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
02 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
11 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
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