KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 ― The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) expressed today its opposition to the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016, and warned that the proposed law risks weakening the country’s constitutional liberties, including religious freedom.
Malaysia’s umbrella body representing non-Muslim religions urged Putrajaya to withdraw its support for the private member’s Bill tabled by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in Parliament last week.
“It has the potential to undermine religious freedom and fundamental liberties as enshrined in Part II of the Constitution. The Non-Muslim’s position too would be in jeopardy under Hudud and they would not have equal rights if implemented,” the group said in a statement.
MCCBCHST said it was “aghast” at Umno minister Datuk Seri Azalina Said Othman’s complicity to expedite Hadi’s Bill through the Dewan Rakyat and reminded the Najib administration that all past five prime ministers had rejected previous attempts to introduce hudud law into a multiracial and multireligious nation because it would have jeopardised the position of the non-Muslim communities.
It urged the government not to ignore the advice of the past five prime ministers and the history of the country.
“Our former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had warned the PAS government of Kelantan in 1994 against introducing Hudud Law in the State because ‘Hudud Law punishes victims while actual criminals were often left off with minimum punishment,” it said.
“The hudud countries at the moment are no examples to follow and according to our former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad they are all failed and unstable states,” it added.
“Our first 5 Prime Ministers, beginning with Tunku Abdul Rahman until Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had objected to Hudud Law and Islamic Law being introduced into The Constitution.
Last Thursday, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia approved Azalina’s motion to elevate it in Parliament’s agenda, saying it would otherwise never have “seen the light of day”.
Hadi’s private member’s Bill proposes empower Shariah courts to enforce punishments other than the death penalty.
Several BN component parties have since voiced their objection, with MCA, MIC and Gerakan leaders threatening to quit their Cabinet positions if the Bill was passed.