KUALA LUMPUR – As the Kelantan government prepares to apply hudud law in the north-east Malaysian state, medical specialists involvement in the implementation of the law, such as hand amputation for those convicted of theft, is dividing the country’s medical associations, amid threats of axing doctors who perform them.
“From the medical aspect, there is no provision under the Medical Act for doctors to carry out such duties,” Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, was quoted by Bernama news agency.
“The duties of a doctor are set under the Medical Act. They (doctors) should carry out their duties within the confines of the act,” he told a media conference.
The minister was commenting on news reports that Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, who is also 1993 Syariah Criminal Code Technical Committee chairman, was planning to use the service of surgeons in amputating the hands of criminals convicted under the Shari`ah Criminal Code Enactment.
Similar reservations were made the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) which rejected the proposal to use surgeons to amputate the hands of thieves under hudud law.
The MMA has also threatened to axe doctors who perform amputations under hudud, according to Muslim medical practitioners’ group i-Medik.
The MMA president, Dr NKS Tharmaseelan, has also cited the World Heath Organization (WHO) instructions to doctors not to be a witness or certify the whipping and caning of criminals, adding that the amputation of criminals’ limbs would be even more “serious”.
Muslim Malays form about 60 percent of Malaysia’s 26-million population, while Christians make up around 9.1 percent.
A few years ago, Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) enacted the hudud laws in its stronghold in Kelantan to be imposed only on Muslims, who represent about 90 percent of the state’s 1.5 million population.
The laws introduced hudud for theft, robbery, adultery, liquor consumption and apostasy.
Adding to the rising controversy, the Muslim medical practitioners’ group i-Medik has condemned MMA threats to doctors, adding that Muslim doctors are abided by the Islamic doctor’s oath which binds them to implement shari`ah laws.
“A Muslim doctor performs his task according to the Islamic medical doctor’s oath, which fully supports Islam as a way of life, and this includes fully supporting Shari`ah laws,” i-Medik chairman Prof Dr Azmi Md Nor said in a message published on Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia’s (Isma) website.
Dr Azmi did not specify which Islamic oath he was referring to, and how it differs with the Hippocratic Oath taken by all doctors.
The Hippocratic Oath states, among others, that doctors must never do harm to anyone, and must do what is best for their patients.
Dr Azmi added that MMA had been hasty in its warning, accusing it of failing to understand Islamic penal code.
“If MMA does not agree with hudud suggestion for Kelantan, it cannot make hudud as a joke for the 63.1 per cent Muslims in Malaysia,” warned Dr Azmi.
In Islam, it is prescribed that in case of a theft, to cut off the thief’s hand.
This is the ruling of Allah concerning theft; that the hand should be cut off from the wrist joint.
It is clear here that cutting off the hand of a thief, although painful to one, serves to protect a society and discourages further corruption.
Although humans may argue for or against any man-made laws, ultimately the law and judgment of Allah is supreme over all.