Hornbill Unleashed

October 31, 2013

Bishop: Put syariah to a referendum among Muslims

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

Terence Netto

Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing said that perhaps the time has arrived to put syariah law to a referendum among Muslims in Malaysia.

“Let’s face it, this question of the imposition of the syariah won’t go away and so I propose that it be put to a referendum among Muslims to see if they wanted it imposed on them,” commented the head of the Catholic Church in the Melaka-Johor diocese.

Bishop Paul Tan emphasised that he was speaking in his own capacity and not for others, be they Christians or people of other faiths.

The prelate was moved to comment on renewed calls for the imposition of syariah law, made by ulama such as PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang who are certain of its efficacy in checking the rising incidence of crime in the country.


“It won’t do for non-Muslims to say that they are opposed to syariah’s imposition in Malaysia if due cognisance is taken of it being an obligation among Muslims to support its imposition,” he argued.

“Once you take due note of this fact and if you note also that the crime rate is the subject of manipulation by the corrupt and the dysfunctional among the police force and reigning leaders, you will have to accept that the way out of this conundrum is to support a referendum among Muslims on the desirability or not of syariah’s imposition on them,” he expatiated.

“If the referendum shows that the majority of Muslims want syariah law imposed on them, then non-Muslims should say they support the move provided cast-iron guarantees are rendered them that they, the non-Muslims, be exempt,” said the Jesuit-trained cleric.

He elaborated: “This is the best way to face this issue. It will either result in it going away or it will resolve in favour of imposition, which is better than letting it hang in the air against a backdrop of a seemingly rising crime rate that is the object of manipulation by the corrupt and dysfunctional.”

Indonesian parliament votes against syariah

Bishop Paul Tan said that being a “religious man myself, I abhor the notion that other religious people are prevented from wanting something that’s obligatory for them imposed on their kind. If the non-Muslims demand freedom to practice their faiths without hindrance, they too should accord the same right to Muslims. Double standards are immoral.”

What if the referendum showed that Malaysia’s Muslims don’t want syariah law?

“Well, that’s something for its proponents to mull over,” said the bishop.

He added: “But it would go a distance in resolving the question. Otherwise against a background of rising crime, the question of syariah’s desirability will press heavily and those opposed to it will be portrayed as people who are unconcerned about crime which is a dubious deduction.”

Bishop Paul Tan recalled that the question of syariah law was put before the Indonesian parliament some years ago and was voted down.

“That vote gave pause to syariah’s proponents though it did not prevent the law’s imposition in regions in Indonesia, in Aceh, for example,” he noted.

He noted that Brunei’s just-announced decision to opt for syariah law would be give impetus to the law’s proponents in Malaysia.

“The question is not about to vanish. It may if it’s put to the vote here. Let’s find out,” proposed the bishop.

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