The cat is out of the bag. Umno leaders were determined right from the beginning to outfox the other 13 Barisan Nasional component parties on Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill and the strategy of how Umno is going to support Hadi’s private member’s bill was revealed by two Umno leaders yesterday.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Kamil Khir Baharom said Hadi’s private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) enabled the government to circumvent the due constitutional process, as requiring consensus from all states, the National Islamic Council and the Rulers’ Conference.
Jamil explained: “You can’t bring it to the Rulers Conference if you don’t have consensus from 14 states, but a private member’s bill requires only one state or one person to table it.”
Jamil made this shocking admission at the Umno Overseas Club Alumni annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Jamil said that when Hadi’s private member’s bill motion moves to the second reading stage, it would be taken over by the government and read out by him.
What Jamil did not mention was that this Umno strategy to support Hadi’s private member’s bill not only tried to circumvent the constitutional process to secure the consensus from the 14 states and the support of the National Islamic Council and the Rulers’ Conference, it was also a ploy to circumvent the Barisan Nasional consensus of all the 14 BN component parties for any policy or measure to be adopted in the name of Barisan Nasional government.
This ploy to circumvent the Barisan Nasional consensus and for the Umno leadership to outfox the leaders and Ministers from the other 13 Barisan Nasional component parties – whether MCA, Gerakan, MIC or the Sabah and Sarawak component parties of Barisan Nasional – was confirmed by another Umno leader, the Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ahmad Maslan, at the same function.
Ahmad Maslan said BN component parties will not be able to object against amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) once the relevant bill is taken over by the federal government as BN component parties are compelled to support the bill as part of the ruling coalition.
He said: “Before this we hear that MCA didn’t like (the planned amendments) to Act 355. MIC objected, and Gerakan objected, too.
“When we asked them why they opposed, they answered ‘How can we not? (The bill) was brought by (PAS president Abdul) Hadi (Awang)’.”
Cementing Umno’s ‘unity’ with PAS
Ahmad admitted the ulterior objective of Umno’s support for Hadi’s private member’s bill motion was to cement Umno’s “unity” with PAS!
I agree with former law minister Zaid Ibrahim that Jamil is wrong and that whether the bill is moved by Hadi or Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the requirements are the same – that the consensus of the states as well as the consent of the Malay Rulers are necessary prerequisites before such a bill can be passed by Parliament into law, as Islamic laws are under the purview of the states and the Malay Rulers.
But what should equally be a cause for consternation is the perfidy of certain Umno leaders who have no qualms in reneging and destroying the much-vaunted principle of Barisan Nasional consensus which proved that Barisan Nasional is a coalition of equals and not a coalition of Umno hegemony!
The Barisan Nasional is facing its worst crisis since its formation in 1973 – as the Barisan Nasional “consensus” principle is being smashed into smithereens by Umno for Hadi’s private member’s bill motion, despite overwhelming opposition by the majority of the other BN component parties.
In this worst Barisan Nasional crisis in 43 years, what should the leaders of the other Barisan Nasional component parties do?
I advise all of them to cancel their end-of-year holidays overseas and to requisition an emergency meeting of the Barisan Nasional supreme council to establish once-and-for-all whether the Umno leadership has decided to smash the BN consensus principle into smithereens by unilaterally and arbitrarily providing Umno/BN government support to Hadi’s private member’s bill in the March Parliament.
LIM KIT SIANG is DAP Parliamentary Leader and MP for Gelang Patah MP.