Another call for Sarawak MPs to oppose Hadi’s bill


SUPP assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang says the amendment will affect non-Muslims, no matter what assurance is given.

(FMT) – All Sarawak MPs should oppose the tabling of the private member’s bill, initially proposed by PAS, to empower the shariah court in meting out criminal sentences, said a leader of BN component Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).

The private member’s bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) 1965 Bill, better known as Act 355, was moved by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang at November’s parliamentary sitting.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also Umno president, said at his party’s general assembly in early December that the government would take over Hadi’s bill, which is scheduled for its second reading in the next parliament sitting in March.

“We have been living together all this while in peace and harmony. I’m very disturbed that Umno is saying that all BN members should support the hudud law which has been taken up by Umno,” Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang told reporters.

Lo was referring to a recent statement by Umno supreme council member Ahmad Maslan that BN component parties were compelled to support the bill as they were part of the ruling coalition.

“I always respected Umno for not coming into Sarawak because Sarawakian politics is different from that of Semenanjung (Peninsular Malaysia). In Sarawak, we’ve learned to be tolerant with one another as far as race and religion is concerned.

“And I dare say that this is the reason why Sarawak has been progressive in terms of socio-economic development. I’m sure all the BN members from Sarawak will say ‘no’ to hudud,” Lo said.

Hadi’s bill proposed to increase shariah punishment caps to a maximum 30 years’ imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the cane. It had earlier sought to remove all limits to shariah punishments save for the death penalty.

Lo said such laws would not be tenable in multi-ethnic Sarawak, where over 42% of the population are Christians and Muslims make up less than 25% of the state’s population.

“Sarawak must never agree to hudud law. Not just SUPP, but everybody in Sarawak should not accept hudud law.

“Just look at Brunei. How many of us in Sarawak, irrespective of whether we are Muslim or Christian, would like to see the kind of scenario in Brunei, where one cannot even sell Christmas or Chinese New Year decorations in public,” Lo said.

He added that the state already had its rights enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, which was not open to negotiations.

“We already have a set of common laws here in this state and we have been doing very well under the Malaysia Agreement 1963. We have the freedom to practise our own religion. We are free to use English or any other language as far as Sarawak is concerned. These are the special privileges that we have and must continue to have,” Lo said.

He also disagreed with the argument by Umno and PAS leaders that the proposed laws would only affect Muslims and that non-Muslims should not interfere.

“Malaysia belongs to everybody. If Malaysia has only Muslims and there are no other religions, then that’s different. So we cannot just say it doesn’t affect the other religious groups because it will. Malaysia consist of so many other religions.

“And if we look at our Constitution, if we look at the Malaysia Agreement 1963, it states there very clearly that we should be free to practise our religion.

“You can say that it’s only for the Muslims. But then if that is the case, don’t treat it as a law for Malaysia, whereby it is required to pass through Parliament,” he added.

Meanwhile, Lo criticised a call by Sarawak DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen early this month for Sarawak BN to leave the ruling coalition if it wished to oppose imposition of such laws and to stand up for Sarawak’s rights.

“Leaving the Barisan is not a solution to the problem. The chief minister will certainly not tell everybody to follow Umno and vote for hudud. Our chief minister would never do that. That is only political talk by Chong. I think it’s very irresponsible of him. If we are concerned about Sarawak, we should not play with fire and stir up sentiments.

Early this month, Chong had told reporters that Sarawak BN should “act soon” as Umno was at its weakest.

“Isn’t it malicious to tell Sarawak BN leaders to leave the coalition? Right now we are the only link to the BN in Semenanjung, to the big boss. What we want is to negotiate better terms for Sarawak. Because of that we cannot leave.”

Lo said both DAP and SUPP should “work together” on certain issues.

“Why? Because our interests are the same. Whether DAP, SUPP or PBB, our objectives are the same. We want what belongs to Sarawak to come back to Sarawak. There are so many things that have been lost,” Lo said.

He added that Sarawakian voters should trust Adenan’s leadership.

“In the coming parliamentary election (for Sarawak), I don’t know what is going to happen or how Malaysian politics is going to change. But there’s something I’m very sure. When the time comes, just listen to what Adenan has to say.

“And when parliamentary elections come, there is only one thing to do. You rally behind a leader who can lead Sarawak in the right direction, and that is Adenan Satem,” Lo said.

The 14th general election must be held no later than June 2018.