Finally, one perceptive and intrepid Muslim legislator has pointed out the obvious: that the back and forth over PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s motion to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, or Act 355 is simply a political ploy by PAS and BN so that they can claim to be the real champions of Islam.
In the latest development, Hadi, on the last day of the current Parliament sitting, has again tabled and deferred his motion, citing the need to allow time for it to be studied. This was similarly done on the last day of the May Parliament sitting.
According to Salor state assembly person Husam Musa the action indicates that Hadi’s motion will only be debated after the 14th general election. It also explains why the Government had initially prioritised the motion when it was first tabled but now has allowed it to be deferred to what Husam sees is an “equilibrium point” that is beneficial to PAS, Umno and BN component parties.
Husam’s analysis makes sense.
“It is good for PAS as their approach will not be seen as a failure. It also creates a ‘feel good’ feeling to maintain the political relationship between PAS and Umno, particularly near the general election.
“Meanwhile, Umno appears honest and desiring to empower Islamic law. It will also not appear that the BN component parties are being played out.”
“It is an effective recipe. It creates a win-win situation for all three parties ahead of the general election with a smart partnership,” he said.
What Husam did not need to point out was that the latest move is another sign that PAS and Umno are likely to go into the next elections as allies with the intention of knocking out Amanah, Parti Pribumi, PKR and other opposition parties vying for the Malay Muslim vote.
But is what is good for PAS and Umno beneficial for the country or even Muslim community?
Progressive Muslim leaders and groupings have already voiced alarm at the proposed greater empowerment of syariah courts.
In his appeal to the country’s legislators, Zaid Ibrahim has argued that the proposed amendment is not “Islamic law, just bad law.” Pointing to the way in which justice is meted out at present, he asks:
“Let’s remove the label “Islamic” and really see the way justice is administered in the shariah courts now. There are thousands of Muslim women who have been waiting for years for their divorce to be finalised, or for the courts to decide on their rights to maintenance or custody. Do you think these same courts have shown that they are ready to receive more powers to impose heavier punishments, just because someone like Hadi calls it Islamic law?
They do not tell you how many investigation officers will be available at the shariah courts or where they will be trained. They do not tell you how many prosecution officers are ready to take up these cases. They do not tell you about the qualifications and ability of the shariah prosecutors and judges who will become more powerful under this amendment to Act 355.”
Zaid, Husam and other Malay Muslim leaders should also emphasize that the present peace and prosperity enjoyed in Malaysia is due mainly to the secular system of government as laid down in the Constitution.
It is not because of any Islamic system that the Malay and Muslim elite and middle class especially have done so well. The secular system and its western-based law and economics – and not a Islamic system or Islamic law and economics – has seen wealth creation and taxes levied on non-Muslims primarily that has enabled the Malay community to rise in socio-economic mobility within one generation – a rise that is unprecedented and unrivalled anywhere in the world among Muslim nations, except for the few oil nations of the Middle East. And let us also not forget: the gender equality principle of our secular system which has enabled Malay women to be of equal status and to advance to where they presently are.
See Clearly Where the Rot Begins
Today, it is understandable that the Malay Muslim community is concerned with the rising cost of living, the 1MDB scandal, the endemic corruption and abuse of power, and what appears to be a gloomy future for their children.
However the remedy for these concerns does not lie in a more Islamic system or more Islamic law and economics.
The remedy lies in the Malay and Muslim community using their right to vote – incidentally, a foundation stone of a western-based democratic system, though not an Islamic-based one – to change the government of the day. And before the election, the remedy lies in requiring the Government to be accountable and transparent, and not to abuse the right to dissent or to undermine our constitutional freedoms.
So what do Hadi and the rest of the PAS leadership have to say about these real life issues facing the country and the rakyat. What do they have to say and do about elections which are gerrymandered; about an authoritarian and corrupt government, about the demands and concerns that they had previously subscribed to and rallied for, but have now abandoned.
The PAS focus on the amendment to Act 355 and the coming rally they are organizing in support must be shown to be what it is. Political hypocrisy and wayang which will only serve the narrow interests of Hadi and his tango with Umno.
Hadi has also now warned non-Muslim legislators not to behave like Ahok.
On the contrary, Malaysia’s non-Muslim legislators and community need to behave like Jakarta’s Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Not only do we have equal rights in this country but we are also an important factor in helping check the rise of a less tolerant and more fundamentalist Islam.
Moderate and sensible Muslim colleagues will want us to continue our opposition to Hadi’s game plan for they know the disastrous outcome that awaits them too should PAS’s or Umno’s Islamic state be advanced through this devious strategy.
Source : Lim Teck Ghee@The Heat Malaysia Online