Senior Umno leaders are now stating their opposition to the Private Member’s Bill by Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS to amend a Syariah criminal law. While Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians in Sabah and Sarawak have openly declared their stand against the Bill, their counterparts in Umno have been skirting around the question on their position.
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, has been snowballing in Sarawak and Sabah.
Sarawak BN’s opposition to the Bill has been crystal clear from day one. In April, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem directed all the 25 federal lawmakers from the Sarawak BN to vote against the Bill when it was thought that it would be tabled.
Then, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, a Sabah Umno leader, declared he will oppose the Bill. He becomes the first Umno leader to state his opposition, albeit in a chat group discussion.
“I will NOT support the bill. Period. It will destroy the harmonious nature of our state,” Anifah wrote in a WhatsApp chat group discussion on the Bill.
Today, The Star carried excerpts of an inclusive interview with senior Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah by Sinar Harian. The Gua Musang MP categorically stated that his priority is the oath he made to uphold the Federal Constitution.
“I have taken an oath as an MP to uphold the Constitution,” he was quoted as saying. “The Constitution was formulated after taking into consideration all views, memorandum, and petitions before it was ratified. We also have the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Malay Rulers who have agreed to the constitutional monarchy system. So we must follow what the Constitution says.
“Some have interpreted that if we don’t follow what is being tabled in Parliament, we are not true Muslims. I don’t know lah. My question is what about Muslims who did not follow it prior to this?
“This law is being put forward by man. Even in Parliament, the Constitution was created by man. But (they say) it is God’s law.”
When asked if he sounded like he won’t be voting for the Bill, Razaleigh replied with a question: “How can I support if it is not in accordance to the Constitution?”
His reply was: “(I) can support or not support it. I am a Muslim and will die as a Muslim. My tongue is not deformed; it has never changed. Whether or not I will be supporting it depends on whether what I mentioned has taken place – whether it contradicts the Constitution or not.
“If it is tabled without going through the Conference of Rulers, it has violated the powers of the Rulers. Then it is not valid. How can I support if it is not in accordance to the Constitution?
“This is not about the party. The party can instruct me, but I can refuse to follow. Because my priority is the oath I made to uphold the Constitution. Every MP took the same oath.”
A Sin Chew Daily editorial also highlighted BN component parties’ opposition to the Bill
“On March 19 last year, when the 44 Kelantan state reps unanimously approved the Syariah Criminal Code (II) 1993 (Amendment 2015) Bill at the state legislative assembly, the leaders of 12 BN component parties held an emergency meeting on the same night to convey to Umno president Najib Tun Razak their disapproval of the hudud law,” it said.
Eddie Hoo@The Heat Malaysia Online