The return of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China was imminent. After years of a hands-free approach taken by the colonial government, the citizens of Hong Kong were used to a liberal atmosphere. The prospect of a continuous liberal environment after the 1997 handover was unclear however. The uncertainty convinced many to fear the worst. Rather than suffer the uncertainty, they took action and sought refuge elsewhere. They applied for permanent residency and citizenship in other countries to escape the possibility of living in an oppressive society. The PRC, regardless of what it is now with all of its contradictions, was perceived as a repressive and decidedly communist country. The 1989 Tiananmen Square incident was still fresh in everybody’s minds.

Money is not always the only consideration in any decision regarding migration. There are other factors that are not necessarily less important than money. Security is one. Love is two. Freedom has often been cited as a factor. A way of life is another.

The implementation of hudud or the adoption of more comprehensive Islamic laws will affect the way of life in Malaysia.

Proponents of hudud argue that the implementation of such laws will be applicable to Muslims only. They guarantee it.

Neither their argument nor their guarantee are good.

The argument of exclusive application is unlikely to be true. Previous conflicts from child custody to death and burial have proven that even the milder version of Islamic laws as practised in Malaysia impacts non-Muslims. These proponents might have forgotten these episodes. They must be reminded of it because these conflicts do create a fear of creeping Islamization in the hearts of non-Muslims as well as others who care for religious freedom.

These past conflicts can tell us what to expect in the future.

The likelier outcome of the wider implementation of Islamic laws is this: whatever affecting the majority will likely affect the minority. A more comprehensive version will not leave non-Muslims alone, even if the legal rights are discriminated among citizens so strongly.

It is naïve to believe such an incredible guarantee.

The minority will float along with the majority, whether they like it or not, for better or for worse. The wider implementation of Islamic laws will be a change in lifestyle for everybody. It will first affect the lifestyle of Muslims, regardless of their piety. The group will become more conservative, voluntarily or otherwise.

Then through the interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims, the lifestyle of the latter will be affected. The rest will have to respect the new conservativeness.

In the end, whatever is the way of life that prevails will change. Whatever openness and liberalness within the society that exists will gradually vanish to satisfy rising conservativeness. Whatever lifestyle that was will have to give way to the Islamic one, however those in power define the Islamic laws. The outlook of Malaysian society itself will change. None will escape such a wholesome change unless they leave.

There is a point where the religious and non-religious minorities along with Muslims who hold more relaxed religious positions will choose migration over further tolerance of growing Islamization within their society. The potential lifestyle change can be too drastic to stomach. There is a point where enough is enough.

If it comes, there will be those who will walk off to a more open society permanently. They have the means to do so, just like many former citizens of Hong Kong.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved
First published in The Malaysian Insider on October 6 2011.

2 Responses to “[2439] When it comes, they will run”

  1. on 09 Oct 2011 at 10:55 Bobby

    Why is everyone still wasting time debating over an issue that is essentially a non-issue, really?
    Now, correct me if I’m wrong.
    With all the facts presented lately, I’ve been led to understand that
    1. Yes, states can independently enforce hudud.
    2. However, if I’m not mistaken, Kelantan failed because it was considered ultra-vires.
    3. Even when PR takes over Federal Govt, they will still need 2/3 majority to pass it as law, which is practically impossible since DAP will never vote for it, and neither will the BN opposition.

    Perhaps it is a bigger deal for you as a libertarian Muslim, and I apologise if it sounds like I am apathetic to your concerns.

    I’m looking at the bigger picture, economy etc and there are bigger issues to resolve than just this fish (I call it the Mahathir red herring).

  2. on 09 Oct 2011 at 16:08 Hafiz Noor Shams

    1. No. If I’m not mistaken, the constitution provides limit to the amount of punishment the syariah court can give out. hudud exceeds that limit.

    2. See #1

    3. Not if you believe it will only affect Muslims. Non-Muslim MP could vote yes because they believe the Muslims want it.

    Relativism does have it space, but it doesn’t mean compromising on rights. If it did, then you know, I shouldn’t worry about discrimination against non-Malaysia… all because there’s a bigger fish to fry.

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