By CHRISTINA LIEW AND BARU BIAN
STATEMENT: We refer to the various statements issued by our KEADILAN leaders concurring with Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim in ‘respecting the rights’ of PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang to table the amendments to the Syariah Courts Act ‘RUU355).
These statements had been received negatively in Sabah and Sarawak and misconstrued by some in that we in KEADILAN support the said Bill RUU355. For us in Sabah and Sarawak, we wish to reiterate our stand on the matter.
We agree that Hadi Awang, or indeed any MP, has the right to table a bill, but that is the extent of our agreement. With respect, we differ with the view that the bill is merely to empower the Syariah Courts.
We are opposed to the Bill in its current form as it is clearly a means to pave the way for hudud law to be imposed, which would in effect be introducing a dual criminal justice system, as explained by Professor Shad Faruqi in his piece ‘Enhancing Syariah courts’ powers’ published on 9 June 2016 in The Star.
This is unconstitutional, as it would violate Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees equality for all. As for the PAS leaders’ assurances that the Bill will not be enforced on non-Muslims, we are not convinced or assured that this Bill, if passed, will have no effect on non-Muslims.
Even without hudud or Syariah laws, there have been many instances of over-zealous officers trying to impose Islamic practices or values on non-Muslims.
The recent ruling in Kelantan, which imposed, that all shops must close and stop their activities during maghrib prayers is one incontrovertible proof that such assurances are not guaranteed.
Moreover, as pointed by Professor Shad Faruqi, the dormant Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (1993), which Hadi Awang is trying to breathe life into by his RUU355, extends to consenting non-Muslims, in violation of the Constitution, which provides that Syariah Courts have no jurisdiction over non-Muslims.
We have not heard that Hadi Awang is planning to repeal that provision of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code. 2 Putting aside all constitutional arguments, the position of PKR Sabah and Sarawak have always been that the Malaysia that Hadi Awang aspires to is not the Malaysia that we agreed to form in 1963.
In fact, it was made abundantly clear that Malaysia would be a secular country, to allay the fears of our forefathers in this respect. Any attempt to introduce hudud or Syariah law in Malaysia will be viewed by Sabah and Sarawak as a breach of the Malaysia Agreement, and we would consider such a breach to be actionable in a court of law.
In line with the autonomy enjoyed by PKR Sabah and Sarawak, we hold firm to our view that the objective sought to be achieved by RUU355 is unconstitutional and breaches a fundamental term of the Malaysia Agreement.
We therefore remain opposed to the Bill or any similar bill in the future, which may threaten the secular Malaysia our forefathers agreed to form in the first place.
Nevertheless, acknowledging the special circumstances, existing social and religious harmony in Sabah and Sarawak, we strongly urge for the Bill (RUU355) if still to be pursued, be dealt with through a Select Committee from both the Government and Opposition in Parliament as proposed by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and KEADILAN since 2016.
- Christina Liew is Chairman KEADILAN Sabah while Baru Bian is Chairman KEADILAN Sarawak