Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) will remain opposed to PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill on the Shariah courts when he re-tables it in Parliament, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg said today.
“Our previous position in opposing the Bill still stands. We have not changed our stand on the hudud law,” he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) councillors from Padawan Municipal Council and Kuching South City Council at his office here.
“If there is any change in direction, then the chief minister (Tan Sri Adenan Satem), who is also the State Barisan Nasional chairman, will make the announcement,” Abang Johari, who is also the PBB deputy president, said when responding to Hadi’s plan to re-table the Bill that seeks to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355.
Hadi had decided to withdraw the tabling of the Bill, which aims to expand the punitive powers of the shariah courts, on the last day of the previous Parliament session in May despite the Speaker allowing it for debate. He reportedly said yesterday that he would be re-tabling it next month.
In April this year, Adenan had already directed all the 25 federal lawmakers from Sarawak BN to vote against the Bill during voting time in parliament.
He had said that Sarawak’s four BN component parties were united in their stand against the implementation of hudud.
State BN secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi had said a blanket order has been issued to all BN MPs to vote against the passage of the controversial Bill.
Rundi, who is also the Public Utilities Minister, said the state BN’s stand from day one, since PAS brought into the books hudud law in Kelantan, was clear that the Islamic penal code would never be implemented in Sarawak as it was a multi-racial state.
The Christian community in Sarawak, which form the majority, has strongly objected to hudud law as they believed that its implementation would encroach into their religious rights provided for under the Federal Constitution.
Pastor Daron Tan, chairman of the Kuching Ministers’ Fellowship (KMF), a network of church pastors and leaders in Sarawak, had said the proposed amendment to Act 355 was aimed to turn Malaysia from a secular to Islamic state.
He had also said that the implementation of hudud law would breach the commitment to complete religious freedom, a key term underpinning the Malaysia Agreement signed in July 1963 between the United Kingdom, North Borneo, Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore.