KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) chided PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang for trying to mislead Malaysians to support his controversial Shariah Bill by claiming it is in line with the Federal Constitution.
The umbrella group representing the country’s five main non-Islamic creeds argued that the Federal Constitution clearly spells out the extent of criminal offences as covered under Shariah law in the State List II (Schedule 9).
“Crimes such as theft, robbery, sodomy, etc. are already covered by the Penal Code and thus are out of the jurisdiction of a state. By now wanting to introduce hudud offences it actually has the effect of creating a parallel Syariah Criminal System which will be in conflict with the Federal Constitution and thus is unconstitutional,” the group said in a statement today.
The MCCBCHST claimed that Hadi was carrying out what he had advised others against, ie destroying the constitution, by seeking to introduce hudud penalties to a secular government.“All historical documents, including the Alliance Memorandum, the Lord Reid commission Report, and the White Paper issued by the British government in June, 1957, show that Malaya was intended to be a secular state.
“The words ‘Syariah law’ now appearing in Schedule 9 were added 19 years after independence, in 1976 by Act 354, SS44, 45 which came into force on 27-08-1976.
“Originally Schedule 9 provided for ‘Muslim Law’ and ‘Muslim courts only’. The amendment in 1976 renamed the ‘Muslim Law’ to ‘Syariah Law’ and ‘Muslim Courts’ to ‘Syariah Courts’ — Article 160 of the Federation Constitution which provides for the interpretation of the word ’Law’ in the Constitution does not include ‘Syariah Law’,” MCCBCHST said.
The Cobbold Commission Report, carried out in 1962, paved the way to the formation of a new federation comprising the peninsula then known as Malaya, together with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.
The group also noted that Sabah’s 20-point consensus agreement and the 18-point for Sarawak stated that there shall be no state religion for Sabah and Sarawak.
“It clearly shows that it is Hadi Awang himself who is acting against the Federal Constitution and to use his own words that ‘people should reject any party or person who wishes to destroy the constitution’ which means people should reject Hadi Awang for pursuing the Hudud Bill,” MCCBCHST said.
The statement was signed by its president Datuk Seri Jit Heng, deputy president Datuk RS Mohan Shan, vice-presidents Archbishop Julian Leow, Jagir Singh and Tan Hoe Chieow and honourary secretary general Prematilaka Serisana.
MCCBCHST reiterated its call for MPs to reject Hadi’s Bill when it is presented in Parliament for tabling. The Bill is listed on the current meeting’s order paper for debate.