By JOE FERNANDEZ
KOTA KINABALU: A human rights advocate has cautioned that there’s no place in Borneo for Parti Keadilan Rakyat, and certainly not among non-Muslims in Malaya, if it supports a proposed hudud Bill.
Daniel John Jambun expressed confidence, however, the Bill which was tabled by PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang on the last day of the Parliament sitting last week, will not see further action.
“In order to amend Act 355 (or RUU355), it has to be in the form of a government Bill,” stressed Jambun. “The Barisan Nasional (BN) has said that it has no consensus on the Bill and will not make it a government Bill.”
The human rights advocate was commenting on a statement by PKR vice-president Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin recently that his party “respects the right” of Hadi Awang to table amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355).
“Hadi is the PAS leader who claimed that corruption is not a sin in Islam,” he recalled. “So, it’s not surprising that his hudud Bill does not consider corruption an offence.”
Jambun, who heads the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim), noted that PKR was taking its cue on the hudud Bill from Anwar Ibrahim, its jailed de facto leader.
The human rights advocate pointed out that syariah courts derive their power from the Federal Constitution and that MPs are sworn to respect, honour and uphold the latter as the supreme law of the land.
“The Federal Constitution cannot go against itself in allowing the empowerment of the syariah courts,” he pointed out.
Also, being an inferior court like the Native Court, syariah courts cannot mete out punishments greater than that imposed by the superior secular court, he argued.
Elsewhere, he continued, there are three main issues viz. no people can be judged by two separate systems for the same crime; all are equal under the law; and the principle of proportionality frowns on over-punishing a person.
“The assurance that hudud will not be imposed on non-Muslims is beside the point,” he said. “It should not be imposed on Muslims as well.”
Act 355, among others, provides for fines up to RM100, 000; 30 year jail sentences; and 100 lashes of the whip, lamented Jambun. “The indications are that it will be the poor who will be made to suffer these punishments.”
“It’s highly unlikely the rich, the elite and privileged will be dragged to the syariah court and made to suffer these punishments.”
He cited Brunei, where hudud law has been implemented, as an example.
“The aristocracy in Brunei is exempt from syariah law,” said Jambun. “That means they can act with impunity on certain offences covered by hudud law.”
Anwar has reportedly called for the establishment of a select committee to study the hudud Bill. The PKR Central Leadership Council is expected to adopt Anwar’s stand as party policy.
Hadi tabled the hudud Bill on April 6.
Parliament Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia deferred debate on the Bill to July when Parliament will resume.