BN components reiterate opposition to Hadi’s bill

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional components MCA, MIC and Gerakan have reiterated their opposition to amendments to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang proposes to table for second reading at Dewan Rakyat today.

They have also called for a dialogue session to be held to get the views of non-Muslim MPs on the matter.

MIC deputy president SK Devamany said the party vehemently opposed the bill, which is aimed at empowering the Islamic courts to enforce any punishment except for death penalty.

“What once began as a bill to ‘expand the range of punishments the Shariah Court can impose’, will slowly escalate and affect the sovereignty of our Federal Constitution. We are a multi-racial country and the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land. As members of parliament, it is our duty to uphold this.

“In a system of democratic governance such as in Malaysia, due representation should transpire. In this instance, a proper dialogue session should be held to listen to the non-Muslim MPs views,” he said in a statement today.

He said this was why MIC welcomes Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s suggestion to form a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to look into this matter further.

“MIC welcomes that move, as it is critical to engage us in this matter,” said Devamany, adding that the country does not need, nor does the MIC want two contradictory legal systems, with the civil law and the shariah law becoming a parallel legal system.

Hadi’s bill clearly challenges the essence of our Federal Constitution and will cause disharmony in the country, said Devamany.

“PAS has shown blatant disregard to the rights and sentiments of all racial and faith groups. Therefore, we stand firmly against this bill in respect of our multi-racial country!” he said.

The bill, referred to as “hudud bill” by its detractors, is expected to be tabled today by Hadi.

On Tuesday, Muslim MPs attended a special briefing called by Zahid in parliament to discuss the bill. The briefing was conducted by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom.

After the briefing, Zahid announced that a new version of the bill would be read for the first time in parliament this week with some proposed amendments. However, the bill would not be debated in this sitting.

‘Not logical’

Gerakan also said that it remained opposed to Hadi’s bill as two legal systems will tear the country apart.

“We remain opposed to Hadi’s bill,” party president Mah Siew Keong said in a statement.

He said if Malaysia wanted to move forward, it had to be done in an inclusive manner.

“Having two separate legal systems will also create confusion and an open-ended environment for opportunists.

“Justice must be served and criminal laws must be applicable to all Malaysians as crime is indiscriminate against race and religion,” he added.

Mah, who is also the Teluk Intan MP, said that a PSC comprising Muslims and non-Muslim lawmakers was a consultative and transparent way to ensure that the voice of all quarters were considered.

“Gerakan respects Islam and its status as the religion of the Federation. However, the proposal made by Abdul Hadi contravenes the Federal Constitution and the fabric of the country,” said Mah, who is the Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister.

Gerakan has also decided to nominate its secretary-general Liang Teck Meng and Deputy Youth chief Andy Yong Kim Seng to represent the party in the PSC.

Earlier MCA too had stated its stand that it would never waver from its stand to oppose the bill.

“We don’t care how many readings the Private Member’s Bill will go through in parliament, but the bottom line is that MCA will oppose it.

“We will not support a Bill from the Opposition, especially from PAS,” said MCA president Liow Tiong Lai in a statement.

He said there was no reason why the PAS bill should be given priority over other government matters.

He said the bill did not enjoy the consensus of all BN parties.

“There can never be two systems of law in this country. We cannot accept it nor close an eye to this,” he said.

Liow also said that MCA was not consulted on the proposed setting up of a PSC to look into the amendments to increase the penalties for the Shariah Courts.

“I will say that it is good to have a select committee to discuss any issue, but it has to depend on what are the issues we need to discuss.

“If it is something that even from the very beginning is not very logical and doesn’t contribute to nation building, then what is the point of discussing it,” he said.

It has also been revealed that Liow had met with other component parties in parliament on Tuesday and

MCA was confident that Gerakan, MIC and parties from Sabah and Sarawak would also oppose Hadi’s bill.

MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon said that if there was no consensus within BN, there would be no whip that would instruct members from component parties to vote for the bill.

“We have openly announced that we are against the bill whether it is the original bill tabled, watered down bill or an amendment bill. No go,” said Chong.

Sarawak and Sabah BN parties too had agreed to oppose Hadi’s bill.





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