PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill on the Hudud looked like it’s going to get defeated even before it gets retabled in Parliament.
Opposition to Hadi’s plan to retable the Bill that seeks to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355, is snowballing in the two Borneo states – Sarawak and Sabah.
Last Monday the Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) reiterated its opposition to the introduction of Hudud in the country.
Now, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, a Sabahan, declared he will oppose the Bill. He becomes the first Umno leader to state his opposition.
“I will NOT support the bill. Period. It will destroy the harmonious nature of our state,” Anifah, who is in New York to attend the United Nations general assembly in New York, wrote in a WhatsApp chat group discussion on the Bill.
He was responding to questions being asked on Sabah BN’s stand on the issue with some forum members suggesting the state BN might not have the spine to break party rank and vote according to their conscience.
Anifah, the younger brother of Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, said the introduction of hudud was “unthinkable” despite Hadi’s assurance that the Bill if passed, would only apply to Muslims in the country.
Former Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail, in his posting to the discussion agreed with the general view of forumers that if Hadi’s Bill becomes law, it would go against the very basic of the foundation and safeguards of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 that formed Malaysia – freedom of religion.
“One of the major issues of the Bill is that it is intruding into the area of criminal law, which under the Federal Constitution, is under their purview of (the) federal (government),” Gani wrote on its legal implications.
“The Bill seeks to provide powers to the states to provide sentences short of death. The powers must remain with the federal (government) as in the Federal list.”
The Bill once it becomes law requires an amendment to the Federal Constitution that some people believed could have far reaching ramifications on a harmonious multiracial, multireligious and a secular society of Malaysia.
Hadi has also been accused of attempting to Arabianise Malaysia.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg said Sarawak BN’s 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 in Kuching.
In April, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem had directed all the 25 federal lawmakers from the Sarawak BN to vote against the Bill when it was thought that the Bill would be tabled and voted then.
But Hadi withdrew the tabling.
He had said he would be retabling it next month.
Sarawak 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.
The highly regarded Anifah’s stand has won him a growing support from Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
But is this Hudud episode just another Umno political ploy to keep Malay support intact without being seen as it is against the implementation of the syariah laws.
Support for the BN among non-Malays in the peninsula has taken a nose dive over the 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB) financial scandal and Umno could ill afford losing Malay, Muslims votes as the country heads to its 14th General Election in a couple of years.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the same time is well aware for him to hang on to power, he has to keep his vote banks in Borneo happy.
Where does Najib stand on Hadi’s Bill and the opposition to it by Sarawak and Sabah BN parties?
Whatever the political manoeuvrings might be, one thing is for sure, the majority of Sarawakians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike and where multireligious families are a norm, are saying, “No to Hudud”.
Laja Lang@The Heat Malaysia Online