Those who want surgeons to carry out hudud punishments should work to change the doctors’ Code of Professional Conduct before demanding they be mandated to perform amputations, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said.
MMA president Datuk Dr NKS Tharmaseelan told The Malaysian Insider that until that happened, doctors would have to abide by the Medical Act which is under the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
“The present Medical Act is based almost entirely on the Hippocratic Oath and regulates how doctors practise. MMA is thus duty bound to advise doctors to follow the law.
“We do not want doctors to fall foul of the law. Doing such amputations will certainly be met with disciplinary action by the MMC,” he said.
Dr Tharmaseelan was responding to pro-hudud groups who have flayed the MMA head for suggesting that the PAS-led Kelantan state government use the services of butchers instead of surgeons to carry out hudud punishments.
Ikatan Pengamal Perubatan dan Kesihatan Muslim Malaysia (I-Medik) chairman Prof Dr Azmi Md Nor had said Dr Tharmaseelan’s comments were unprofessional and did not take into consideration the feelings of Muslims.
Dr Azmi had said Muslim doctors not only carry out their duties according to the Islamic medical oath, but are also in full support of Shariah law.
He said the MMA president’s statements were made in haste without any effort to understand the importance of Shariah law to the public, especially to Muslims and the thousands of Muslim medical professionals in the country.
In response, Dr Tharmaseelan said that the MMA has always shown respect to all religions and races.
“MMA is certainly not qualified to discuss or comment on religious or any other issues other than medical ones. MMA has not done so either but amputation is a medical issue,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
The Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (Imam), in expressing its support for the proposed hudud law, had also taken Dr Tharmaseelan to task for his “lack of sensitivity”.
It had also said that since the moral punishment for hudud is to inflict pain, fear, remorse and repentance and since a surgeon could not perform amputations without anaesthesia, it would defeat the underlying principle of hudud.
“The moral of punishment for hudud is to inflict pain, fear, remorse and repentance on the convicted, as a lesson not to repeat the crime, and the public execution is a strong deterrent to future criminal acts,” said its president Dr Abdul Rahim Mohamad.
“Thus, undertaking the amputation under anaesthesia defeats the underlying principle of hudud. This, however, is a point of serious contention between the various schools of thought and Imam is open to other evidence-based and Shariah-compliant opinions which best prescribe the active role of the Muslim physician.”
Dr Tharmaseelan, however, pointed out that in Malaysia there is only one regulatory body – the MMC – that enforces medical ethics and practice.
“The MMC has codified Medical Practice and Ethics in the Code of Professional Conduct. In addition, it has spelt out extensively the dos and don’ts in the guidelines of the MMC which are updated from time to time,” he added.
He reiterated that MMA had never suggested any alternative method of amputation of limbs, adding that such methods would still be unlawful under the Act.
“As the Medical Act stands, and as concurred by the Health Minister recently, it is against medical ethics and practice to force a surgeon to do such amputations,” Dr Tharmaseelan said. – May 4, 2014.