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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sarawak parties make strong calls against proposed Bill on hudud laws

KUCHING - Five parties from both political sides are strongly maintaining their non-support for the tabling of a Private Member’s Bill on Kelantan hudud law by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in the Dewan Rakyat.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing strongly disagrees with the proposal, believing that the passing of it could result in the creation of precedents that might lead to the encroachment on the realms of the current legal system. He stressed that the passing of the Bill could also affect the non-Muslims in this country one day.

“PRS (Parti Rakyat Sarawak) will not agree if the amendments involves introduction of ‘hudud’, bit by bit, into the Malaysian society,” Masing, who is PRS president, told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.

The deputy chief minister had previously said that he would instruct PRS lawmakers to vote against the Bill come its tabling in Parliament, adding that the proposal to amend the Federal Constitution and paving the way for hudud to be implemented in Kelantan contravened the Federal Constitution.

Masing was adamant that hudud laws would not be practised in Sarawak.  PRS has six MPs, one of whom is Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun. The Private Member’s Bill would need a simple majority vote from 112 MPs, out of the total 222, for it to be passed.

The proposed Bill on the amendment to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 was the last item on Thursday’s Parliament Order List. However, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman moved a motion to bring the debate forward, citing Standing Order 14(2).

Hadi   then requested for the debate be deferred to next parliamentary meeting in October, as Thursday was the last day of the current meeting.

The Bill previously appeared in Parliament order papers in April and June last year, but failed to make it onto the floor of the Dewan Rakyat on both occasions.

It is reported that Hadi had assured non-Muslims that they would have nothing to fear over the implementation of hudud laws as they would be meant only for the Muslims, adding that the Syariah Court had no jurisdiction to try non-Muslims.

For Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, it would be sad should the Bill get to progress further in Parliament.

Sarawak will never accept hudud law — Dr Sim
“Under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, all parties involved agreed that the Federation of Malaysia should be secular.

“For SUPP, our position is very clear — we oppose this legislation because Sarawak will never accept such a law. I am also pleased that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem and Sarawak BN (Barisan Nasional) have stated many times that Hudud laws will not be implemented in the state,” he told reporters during a visit to Padawan district police headquarters in Siburan near here yesterday.

Dr Sim, who is also Minister of Local Government, said SUPP’s stance had not changed since the establishment of hudud laws in Kelantan.

The proposed Bill seeks to amend the federal law, the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, to make way for the implementation of hudud laws in Kelantan and other states.

At present, the Act allows the Syariah Court to impose a maximum sentence of three years, a maximum fine of RM5,000 and six strokes of the cane, known as ‘Rule 3: 5: 6’.

Kelantan State Legislative Assembly passed a motion last year for the implementation of ‘hudud’ and ‘qisas’ — among the several forms of punishments under the Islamic penal law — but it got stuck because the federal law would not allow more than the prescribed punishment.

On the other hand, Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong raised her concern about the proposed Bill being a ‘smokescreen’ to divert the global attention away from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) issue.

“The 1MDB has emerged as a global concern — even a commercial bank in Singapore had been fined due to its involvement in the scandal. As such, we cannot rule out the possibility that the BN government is trying to divert people’s attention (away from it).

“Such a political drama is not going to conclude so soon. There will be more episodes to go,” she said when asked for comments

For Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei, the Bill would be easily passed in Parliament if Umno — the largest and most empowered component party of the federal BN — was secretly collaborating with PAS, while getting help from other BN component parties to pass the Bill.

“Even PBB and SUPP have to abide by what Umno dictates. This alone reflects the disadvantage of making a component party so strong that it would have no problem having things done its way.”

Wong added that Umno could just ignore the different voices from other BN component parties.

He also said it was high time for PBB and SUPP to severe ties with Umno and federal BN chairman Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to state a clear stand on the issue.

“There is no need for PBB and SUPP to express their opinions in the press. What they can do is withdraw from federal BN. Action speaks louder than words.

“DAP has severed ties with PAS due to it implementing hudud laws in Kelantan — I do not see why PBB, SUPP and state BN cannot do the same.”

In his remarks, state PKR chairman Baru Bian said Sarawakian MPs must make the stand against hudud laws.

The Ba Kelalan assemblyman said the successful tabling of the Private Member’s Bill by Hadi Awang, who is also Marang MP, had taken many MPs by surprise — leading to allegations of a collaboration between PAS and Umno.

“It appears that the effects of the amendments are to change the existing limits of penalty imposed by the current Syariah Courts Act.

“As I do not have a copy of the Bill, I am not in the position to comment in detail, except to state that our stand on hudud laws again – that it is unconstitutional and unsuitable for implementation in Malaysia, given the high level of corruption and mismanagement in the government of this country,” he said in a press statement yesterday.

Baru, who is also a senior lawyer, said the Federal Constitution was intended to be the supreme law of the land and that MPs must ensure that it would remain so.

“If the effect of this Bill is to enable the implementation of ‘hudud’, then all MPs must rise up to their sworn duty to protect the Federal Constitution by voting against the Bill.”

Baru stressed that although the debate on the Bill by Hadi Awang to enable the implementation of hudud had been deferred to the next parliamentary sitting, all MPs from Sarawak must seriously look at the ramifications of the Bill and to vote against it should it violate the Federal Constitution and the secular status of Malaysia.

In Kota Kinabalu, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has voiced out the same call as its Sarawak counterparts on the matter.

Its president Datuk Teo Chee Kang said the Malaysia Agreement 1963 was signed in full recognition of the geographical, racial and religious diversities across Sabah (then North Borneo), Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore.

“Religion was, in fact, one of the major concerns of the Sabahans and Sarawakians who were predominantly non-Muslims.”

Teo, who is also Sabah’s Minister of Special Tasks, said the four components — Sabah, Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore — agreed to form the Federation of Malaysia based on the framework reflected in the Federal Constitution.

“Departing from it (is) tantamount to defying the wisdom of our forefathers,” he said in a press statement yesterday, stressing that the current balance between theocracy and secularism should not be disturbed.

“You cannot have different punishments for different groups of people when they commit the same offence, for doing so could promote inequality and division among Malaysians.

“In 1963, had our leaders in Sabah and Sarawak known that hudud laws would be introduced 50 years later, the Malaysia Agreement would not have been signed — there would be no Malaysia,” he pointed out.

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