So, the bajet 2014 had been tabled a few weeks ago. What do you think about it? “Exciting” no? Hope you guys “enjoyed” the budget and I’m sure it will go a long way in “helping” the economy back on it’s feet. Anyway, that’s not what we want to talk about today. Today it’s about the relation between the economy, crime and welfare.
Lately we hear in the news about many crimes committed, especially ones involving security guards robbing banks and stuff that prompted the government to launch an opperation to clear the country from illegal foreign security guards. Why do these companies hire illegal foreign security guards? Well, I guess it’s the same reason why any employer employs foreign workers – Cheap labour.
Why they want to hire cheap labour? Too keep costs low. Why do they want to keep costs low? Because the banks (clients) also want to keep costs low. So you get the idea? In the end the question is which customer doesn’t want cheap goods and services? And that’s why companies go the extra mile to cut costs. It’s the same in every industry. I guess that’s why it’s next to impossible to set a more reasonable minimum wage (recommended RM1500), let alone higher average pay for employees.
And as prices of goods rise due to subsidy cuts and additional taxes, the lower income group become more and more desperate. Security guards are categorized in that group, but unlike other lower income professions, they have access to millions of ringgit worth of clients money. All of a sudden, robbing becomes an attractive decision.
That is one of many situations that are caused by the hardship of life due to raising costs of living. Another example is snatch theft. But my point it, poverty leads to crime. So how do we solve it? Putting more Police on the ground does help but that can only go so far in reducing the crime.
But surprisingly I hear calls to implement hudud law and some are even coming from non-muslims. Now, before everybody goes berserk and shout anti-Islamization slogans, please spend some time read the things you need to know about hudud law that has also been implemented by the Brunei government recently.
In the interest of time, I’ll only touch on the crime of robbery/stealing. According to hudud law, those who have been found guilty of stealing/robbery, the punishment is by cutting off one hand. If he repeats the crime, he will get his leg chopped off, if he repeats it again, his other hand will get chopped off, and if he repeats that again, his other leg will be chopped off. I don’t think he can steal anymore after that.
Sounds cruel no? But I doubt a robber will continue robbing after he lost one of his hands. Besides there are terms and conditions that come with the law :
But some might ask, why such cruel laws? That’s because in Islamic society there is a safety net for all Muslims in the form of Zakat. Besides, if you don’t steal, why are you worried? And would you even think of stealing if you knew you were going to loose your hand? I mean going to jail is one thing, loosing a hand is a totally different matter.
You can’t impose a tough law if you don’t give people some kind of safety net. This is where Zakat comes ini. So what is Zakat? Zakat is an predetermined amount of money collected by the zakat authorities from Muslims that have enough income to qualify for zakat. It’s kinda like income/business/property tax for Muslims, but unlike income tax that everyone tries so hard to avoid, this is compulsory for those who qualify. You can avoid it on earth, but you can’t escape the consequences in the afterlife (Muslims believe in punishment in the afterlife).
So this money that is collected is used to help the poor, some by directly giving the money and some in the form of money to start a small business. But the idea is to give the poor enough money so that they don’t go into crime.
It’s a perfect concept where the zakat takes away any reason for people to go into crime (apart from greed) and the hudud laws punish those who cross the line of greed.
However the current reality is while the zakat authority is managed relatively well, it is full of protocol and procedures that sometimes make people in need cannot stand the procedure thus giving up. The zakat authority is not equipped to handle people in immediate need of help. In other words the distribution system is not yet. I understand the need to check on the applicants background, but if they don’t find a solution to this problem, it’s hard to imagine how they will handle hudud law.
At the moment, the law can only be implemented upon Muslims, although I’m sure if we wanted, we can replicate a similar law for non Muslims. But nothing is clear because it hasn’t been discussed on an implementation level. As you know, it’s even a challenge to get the different political parties to even agree on discussing the law, let alone discuss on an implementation level.
But like the now famous Reza Aslan said, South East Asia, particularly Malaysia has the potential to become the best Muslim country in the world and a role model to other Muslim countries, even in the Middle East. I believe it’s partly because we are a multi-racial country which in a way helps regulate extremisme. The challenge is to get the muslim leaders to discuss the matter properly with leaders from other religions without getting to emotional. I think if that can be done, Malaysia will become a very successful Muslim country that also takes care of citizens from other religions properly.
iMyn is the Co-Founder and some say Chief Content Officer of RinggitKini.com. Has a craze in travel, writing and current issues.