Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian also hopes there will be no cases of absentees among BN MPs from the state if the bill is tabled and comes up for voting.
PETALING JAYA: Sarawak chief minister Abang Johari Openg is right to bring up the discriminatory and unconstitutional elements in the proposed amendment to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), says Baru Bian.
The Sarawak PKR chairman said he was also pleased with the chief minister for bringing up his misgivings with Prime Minister Najib Razak, especially with respect to equality for all under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, The Borneo Post reported today.
“We cannot accept shariah law, for Malaysia already has a supreme law, which is the Federal Constitution. Article 4 of the Constitution declares it simply: ‘This Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation’,” Baru was quoted as saying.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang proposed the bill to amend Act 355 last year, but it was later watered down, with the enhancements to punishments being increased to fines amounting to RM30,000, a maximum of 30 years imprisonment and caning up to a maximum of 100 times.
Baru called for all Sarawak MPs to have the courage to reject the amendments to Act 355 if it is tabled in Parliament.
“Let’s hope there are no cases of absence due to convenient ‘meetings’ or ‘urgent official trips’, that give these Sarawak MPs an excuse to be away from Parliament should the bill be tabled and presented for voting.
“They must be present to vote against the bill to carry the Sarawak conscience and the aspiration of the country Malaysia is meant to be,” Baru was quoted as saying by Borneo Post.
He also said Abang Johari must instruct all Sarawakian MPs to be present in parliament when the bill is tabled and debated, and to vote against it.
Meanwhile, his counterpart in Sarawak DAP believed Abang Johari was still being “a bit ambiguous” by leaving it to Najib to deal with the concerns he had raised.
Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chien Jen, who is also Bandar Kuching MP, said he and four other DAP MPs from Sarawak will be monitoring the attendance and voting by the 25 BN MPs from the state.
“We will play our part on what actually transpires during the crunch of the matter – that is the voting time for the Bill,” he was quoted as saying.
It was previously reported that Sarawak BN parties Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) had instructed their parliamentarians to vote against the bill.