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Friday, November 25, 2016

Why Borneo MPs should reject Hadi’s bill

Sarawak 4 Sarawakians reminds MPs of difference between promises and real life situations, giving examples of how non-Muslims rights are even now being affected

KUCHING - A human rights advocate says there’s no reason for MPs in Sabah and Sarawak to be caught up with the rhetoric and polemics in peninsular Malaysia on hudud law.

Peter John Jaban, who heads the Sarawak 4 Sarawakians NGO on state rights, asked why MPs from Sabah and Sarawak should be urged to vote for the “hudud bill” in Parliament, unless they wanted hudud in Borneo.

He was commenting on the grapevine in Sarawak reporting a “weakening” of the earlier firm position against supporting PAS president Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill on shariah courts.

“Hudud is a state matter in the sultanates,” he added in an interview. “The hudud bill in Parliament is to facilitate hudud in these states.”

He said Sabah and Sarawak MPs should not help facilitate hudud in peninsular Malaysia if they did not want hudud in Borneo.

He recalled a speech by Hadi on July 9, 2002, in the Terengganu Assembly as an ominous portent of things to come.

Hadi, who was then Terengganu Menteri Besar, declared the state government would impose hudud and qisas laws on non-Muslims “when every citizen understands them”.

Jaban said the ‘hudud bill’ would not affect Borneo as the state legislative assemblies in Sabah and Sarawak “would not accept hudud”.

However, he warned against buying the argument that shariah laws – religious laws – did not affect non-Muslims.

For starters, he said, the civil court abdicated its jurisdiction after Article 121 (1)(A) of the Federal Constitution was amended. “If a family law case involves both Muslim and non-Muslim, it is left to the Shariah Court,” he noted.

He felt the civil court should not abdicate its responsibilities, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

He said, there were cases where non-Muslims in Borneo with a bin or binte in their names were listed as Muslim by the National Registration Department (NRD).

The NRD will not delete the word “Islam” from non-Muslim MyKads, said Jaban, “if they can’t first convince the Shariah Court.”

There were other cases like scam conversions in Borneo by Muslim NGOs from the peninsula and Dayak children being listed as Malay, all widely reported by the media, he said.

Borneo MPs, said Jaban, must keep in mind that, “In jurisprudence, God is not a source in law. The rule of law decides.”

“The 20 Points (Sabah) and 18 Points (Sarawak) govern the secular nature of the respective state Constitutions,” said Jaban. “There must be proportionality i.e. the punishment must fit the crime.”

“The Federal Constitution is secular,” pointed out Jaban. “Islam is the religion of the federation but is qualified by other Articles in the Federal Constitution.”

By Joe Fernandez

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