I wrote on Saturday how silly it is for people to go berserk over the private bill by Abd Hadi Awang of PAS seeking to enhance the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, 1965.
The religion of the Federation of Malaysia is Islam as given by Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution. However, other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony. The words peace and harmony are written explicitly to underscore the fact that other religions are being protected by the Constitution. One must also remember the first part of that article stating that Islam is the religion of the Federation. It is the religion and not the official religion.
The British came to Malaya through treaties. The states of Malaya, save for Pulau Pinang and Melaka, were never colonies of Britain. Malaya consists of nine sovereign states. Four were the Federated Malay States while five were Unfederated. The religions of these states have always been Islam. This is evident in a letter from Stamford Raffles to his cousin, Reverend Thomas Raffles that “Religion and laws are so united” in Muslim dominated areas that the introduction of Christian beliefs will bring about “much mischief, much bitterness of heart and contention”. You can read more on this in a previous writing of mine called The Case for God .
I had had a lengthy debate with MCA’s Ti Lian Ker, a senior partner at Messrs Wong, Law & Ti, as he had went on to conduct a session for MCA members on the “far-reaching consequences of the Hudud bill.” When asked, Ti could not even tell me the name of the proposed bill.
For the benefit of the rest, the bill seeks to enhance the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, 1965; a law that is prescribed to Muslims only!
Ti asked me two questions: first – why the hush-hush before allowing Hadi to speak in Parliament about it? For a senior politician to not know the processes of a private bill tickles me. Hadi was merely seeking the August House’s permission to table the bill. He was not tabling the bill. And it is not a BN or UMNO bill. A private bill is a bill that is not proposed by the ruling government. It is proposed by members of the Opposition or backbenchers.
In this respect, Hannah Yeoh as the DAP Speaker for the Selangor State Assembly summed it up real well when Selangor UMNO actually wanted to table a Hudud bill for the state. Watch from 0:38.
Hadi, has as much right that has been accorded to other members of Parliament to table out anything, with the agreement of the House. For once I agree with PKR’s N Surendran who explained the process above.
Ti’s second question to me was:
This is what happens when you speak before your brain could even begin to think. Then you add chaos into the confusion. Article 145 of the Federal Constitution clearly states that the Attorney-General has no jurisdiction over Syariah laws. Syariah laws are made according to the sub-articles of Article 3. Imagine a senior partner of a law firm not knowing this. For the record, Ti never replied me.
And isn’t it detrimental to the cohesion of the Barisan Nasional that a very ill-informed and non-Muslim person such as Ti to go around explaining to members of the MCA something even he does not grasp? Maybe he should have asked a very recently former MCA member to give clarification on the issue instead:
Some of Ti’s followers, concerned that actual Hudud would eventually be enforced, refused to read Articles 3(1), 11(1) of the Federal Constitution that protects the right to practice one’s religion in peace and harmony. Instead they cited Pakistan as an example of extreme Syariah laws.
I don’t know what is it with people who don’t read. The official name of Pakistan itself is a dead giveaway. Since 1973, the country is known as The Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Even in the preambles of its Constitution clearly states the intent and spirit of the state and its Constitution:
Every religious group has the right to manage its own affairs
By intruding, isn’t this right given also to the Muslims in Malaysia being denied by the non-Muslims? Remember, Islam is the religion of the Federation and others are given the rights to practice theirs in peace and harmony. So, why intrude into our affairs?
None of Ti’s followers or defenders quoted me those Articles as asked. Instead they continued to make comparisons between Malaysia and Pakistan.
Their concern is the “protection of the Constitution.” I have written on Saturday how the Federal Constitution remains the supreme law of the land. All the proposals submitted by Hadi that trangress the limits given by the Constitution have been shot down as shown in this table that has now been widely shared:
Let me ask you this: is there anywhere there that says the amendments include its application to non-Muslims? Any proposal for non-Muslim houses of worship to be torn down?
Now, remember! Hadi is merely seeking the permission to table the private bill. Until then he cannot do so. The house will have to debate this and vote on it. So instead of making monkeys out of themselves, shouldn’t the BN non-Muslim MPs take a step back and digest the House rules like smart people should? The following would have been totally unnecessary:
Really? We know that you did not get the lion’s share of your respective community’s votes and this is a good opportunity to try and garner support. You could have done it smartly by saying “we will seek clarification from Hadi and explain to our community” instead of jumping up and down without knowing head or tail about the proposal. It should be the Muslim community to react and not the rest as it would be their liberties affected. Mind you, most of the proposals are already laws in all the states.