Malaysia should not follow the model of Saudi Arabia and Sudan as proposed by PAS but emulate  the best features from the 20 countries with the highest  UNDP  human development index

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Friday): DAP is most disappointed that PAS Terengganu Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is bent on pushing on with efforts to put  the Terengganu Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Hudud and Qisas) on the state statute books despite strong  protests on six grounds against the enactment, viz: that it is:

When introducing the Terengganu Syariah Criminal Offence (Hudud and Qisas) Bill in the Terengganu State Assembly on 7th July 2002,  Hadi had cited  Saudi Arabia and Sudan as countries with safe and peaceful societies because of the implementation of the syariah criminal laws. 

Malaysia should not follow the model of Saudi Arabia and Sudan as proposed by PAS but other countries with higher UNDP  human development index (HDI). 

In the recently-released Human Development Report 2002 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Human Development Index for Malaysia had fallen three  places to 59th placing as compared to 56th placing in the UNDP Human Development Report 2001.  Even then, Malaysia is more favourably placed then Saudi Arabia and Sudan, which are  placed in the 71st and 139th positions respectively, as compared to their 68th and 138th placing in 2001 respectively. 

The HDI measures the overall achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development – longevity, knowledge and a decent standard of living. It is measured by life expectancy, educational attainment (adult literacy and combined primary, secondary and tertiary enrolment) and adjust income per capita in purchasing power parity (PPP) US dollars.  The HDI is a summary, not a comprehensive measure of human development.

In his dialogue with the Chinese community at Negri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall in Seremban last Sunday, Hadi said that in Saudi Arabia which implements the hudud and qisas laws, there were hardly ten criminal cases in the past  ten years.

I have checked the international crime statistics available on the Internet and found that Hadi’s claim is baseless.  Interpol publishes sets of international crime statistics every two years since 1950 and every year since 1993.  The Interpol website ( gives country statistics relating to major categories of criminal offences brought to the attention of the police in Interpol member countries from 1995-2000, and the statistics for Saudi Arabia are as follows:  


    1995 1996  1997 1998   1999 2000
1. Murder 141 146 138 92 172 147
2. Sex offences  (including rape)     3,262 2,849 968 3,314 7,230 7,856
2.1 Rape    102 96 106 248 110 30
3.Serious assault   3,005   3,863  735 35 181  26  
4. Theft (all kinds of theft)  15,268 14,169 7,763 13,568 26,218 33,667  
4.1 Aggravated theft  448   258    - - 835      1,123  
4.1.1 Robbery and violent theft 3 4 - - 47 30
4.1.2 Breaking and entering - - - - - -
Theft of motor cars   8,553  7,202   7,922 7,677 11,021     15,896  
Other thefts     6,264 6,705  - - 15,237   16,618  
5. Fraud      161 151 - 87 319 441
6. Counterfeit currency offences  245 257 - 152 809 764
7. drug offences 7,303   7,474  7,539  7,736 10,727  12,204  
8. Total number of offences    contained in in national crime statistics 29,488 28,992  17,143   25,232   60,722  72,512  


From these statistics, Hadi’s statement in Seremban that there were hardly ten criminal cases in the past ten years were completely wrong, when in the five years from 1995-2000, there were 234,009 or nearly a quarter of a million criminal cases.

Hadi and other PAS leaders had repeatedly said  that the Syariah laws and hudud had long been practised in Saudi Arabia and proved to be effective in maintaining peace and security. 

He  said it was  only on “rare occasions” that people convicted of offences are punished under hudud, “may be there would be one or two cases in 10 or more years”.

Hadi said that there was too much public concentration on the punitive aspects, such as the chopping of hands and whipping, which had obscured the “beauty” of the laws, and asserted that “punishment under the hudud law cannot be meted out on the suspect even if there was a 0.01% of doubt”. 

These claims by Hadi are also not verified by facts.  The Seventh United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the  Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (  gives the following data for Saudi Arabia  for “Persons convicted in the criminal courts, by type of crime” for the three years from 1998 to 2000:

    1998 1999 2000
Total convicted for attempting intentional homicide     424                   440                   616
major theft         6,623    6,999    6,346


From these data, the number of people in Saudi Arabia who had been subject to the hudud punishments of amputation of limbs must run at least into tens of thousands – and not  “one or two cases in 10 or more years” as claimed by Hadi.

Amnesty International recorded 90 judicial amputations in Saudi Arabia between 1981 and December 1999, including at least five cases of cross amputation (right hand and left foot), but it said the true number is probably much higher.

In its 2000 report, Amnesty International said it had recorded 1,163 executions in Saudi Arabia between 1980 and December 1999.  The figures indicate a rising trend in the use of the death penalty. The average annual number of executions between 1980 and 1986 was 29. The average between 1987 and December 1999 was 73. 

The Human Rights Watch 2001 Report said that in the first nine months of 2000, at least 104 Saudis and foreigners had been beheaded, “exceeding in nine months the total of 103 that Amnesty International recorded in 1999”. 

The US State Department Human Rights Report 2002 on Saudi Arabia states that the Saudi authorities acknowledged 81 executions during 2001. 

Although Malaysia’s democracy, human rights, rule of law and good governance have deteriorated in significant manner in  many important areas, they are still undoubtedly superior to that prevailing in Saudi Arabia – a fact which is unanimously upheld by all international studies and surveys.

Saudi Arabia’s justice system, where criminal cases are heard in the general sharia (Islamic law) courts, is highly secretive with  practices which deny fundamental due-process rights to criminal suspects. 

The system, described by Amnesty International as “Justice system without justice”,  perpetuates a wide range of human rights violations – arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention, the incarceration of prisoners of conscience, torture, secret and summary trials, cruel judicial punishments and executions – which are all facilitated by the state’s policy of secrecy and the prohibition of the right to express conscientiously held beliefs.

In early July, the UNDP released its first Arab Human Development Report, which cited lack of political freedom, discrimination against women and inadequate education systems as having led to a substantial development gap between Arab countries and far poorer regions of the world.

The report praised Arab countries for significant gains in literacy, an increase in life expectancy of about 15 years and sharp falls in infant mortality in recent decades. Yet in virtually every measurable area of opportunity described by the report as crucial to future growth and development, the Arabs fall short.

On international measurements of government accountability, civil liberties, political rights and media freedom, Arab countries score lower than any other region in the world.  While per capita income exceeds the rest of the developing world, except for Latin America and the Caribbean, only sub-Saharan Africa has had a lower rate of income growth.

The UNDP concludes that most Arab countries are providing both too little  education and the wrong kind, creating “a major mismatch” between what Arab education systems are teaching their youth and the needs of their own labour markets.

Arab countries have the world’s lowest level of information “connectivity” – the percentage of people who use the Internet and those with access to a personal computer. More than half the Arab women are illiterate and the “utilization of Arab women’s capabilities through political and economic participation remains the lowest in the world, in quantitative terms”, the report said.

Should  Saudi Arabia and the Arab countries, which are richer than they are developed,  be the models of development for Malaysia to emulate as advocated by PAS, when the quality of  human development enjoyed by Malaysians are by and large very much higher in  the country – although Malaysians rightly demand higher standards of  political, economic, educational, social, cultural and religious life and attainments so that Malaysia can be ranked among the world’s  first 20 instead of among the first 60 nations in the annual UNDP Human Development Index (HDI).

It would appear that PAS would want Malaysia to be in the company of nations ranked between 70th and 140th placings in the UNDP Human Development Index (presently occupied by Saudi Arabia and Sudan).

Malaysia should not follow the model of Saudi Arabia and Sudan as proposed by PAS but emulate  the best features from the 20 countries with the highest  UNDP  human development index, namely:  Norway, Sweden, Canada, Belgium, Australia, United States, Iceland, Netherlands, Japan, Finland, Switzerland, France, United Kingdom, Denmark, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Italy.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman