Islamic law would defy the constitution, says Malaysian ruling party member A Muslim lawyer and member of the ruling party has asked Malaysia's highest court to strike down efforts by the Islamic opposition party to impose sharia law in two states. The suit seeks to declare Islamic criminal codes, or hudud bills, in the two states illegal, unenforceable and in conflict with the federal constitution. The application is urgent because the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) said this week that the hudud bills would be enforced in Kelantan and Terengganu from Monday - the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Zaid Ibrahim, who filed the application on Tuesday, described the bill as a direct challenge to the federal constitution. 'By enforcing the hudud bill, the states are in effect renouncing the constitution as the supreme law of the land. This is tantamount to secession from the federation,' he said yesterday. 'The bill threatens the fundamental liberties of all Malaysians.' PAS approved the hudud bills on July 8 but did not gazette and enforce them because the police, the attorney-general and the Prisons Department, all federal agencies, refused to arrest, prosecute or jail offenders. Political analysts say PAS wants to enforce the bills now to cause political embarrassment for the United Malay National Organisation (Umno) as leader Mahathir Mohamad steps down as prime minister on October 31. PAS is also seeking to gain political mileage ahead of a general election, expected next year. The bills provide for public whippings, the amputation of limbs and jail terms for theft, robbery, adultery, the consumption of alcohol, apostasy and armed rebellion by Muslims. The constitution is ambiguous in that it allows states to make Islamic laws with respect to Muslim marriage, divorce, adoption and inheritance. It also says the interpretation of Islam is a prerogative of state governments. But legal experts say the bill had breached several provisions of the constitution and they expect the Federal Court to declare it void. With a general election near, the government is reluctant to openly oppose the bill for fear of alienating Muslim voters, who form about 65 per cent of the 9.7 million voters. The application to strike down the bills has been welcomed by human rights and women's groups. Zainah Anwar, of Sisters in Islam, a vocal Muslim feminist movement, said: 'We reject the bill because it is based on a wrong interpretation of Islam and blatantly discriminates against women.' One provision of the bill demands a rape victim produce four Muslim men of good character as witnesses to the crime, failing which she face 80 strokes of the cane for false accusation.