Reject Hadi’s Bill to preserve racial, religious harmony

KUALA LUMPUR: G25, in an unprecedented statement on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s take on the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016 (Hadi’s Bill), have called on the people to reject it. “We need to reject the Bill so that racial and religious harmony can be maintained.”

“The country can then progress to achieve our vision for a united, moderate and happy Malaysia.”

“I would like to clarify to our friends in Barisan Nasional (BN) that there was a misunderstanding. I would like to state that it is not for the implementation of hudud. It’s just to give Shariah Courts enhanced punishments. From six-strokes caning to a few more depending on the offences,” G25 quoted Najib as saying on Friday.

The G25 was not convinced by Najib’s assertion that Hadi’s Bill was not about implementing hudud. “It was a give-away when Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said earlier on Thursday that Hadi’s Bill was not to make new laws but to confer on the Shariah Court the powers to implement hudud in Kelantan.”

Hadi’s Bill has everything to do with the Kelantan hudud Bill of 2015, added G25. “It was further reinforced by reports that the Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob urged all Muslim MPs to support Hadi’s Bill.”

The Group concedes the Bill specifically states that the imposition of the death penalty by the Shariah Court was not permitted. However, significantly and in a general manner, the Bill permits the imposition of other forms of punishment.

“The Bill permits the State Legislatures to empower the Shariah Court to impose any form of hudud punishment other than the death penalty. For example, 100 lashes of whipping for an unmarried person guilty of adultery; or the amputation of hands for theft.”

In order to understand its underlying purpose, continued the statement, Hadi’s Bill cannot be looked at in isolation.

Although Article 3 of the Federal Constitution declares that Islam is the religion of the Federation but constitutionally, Malaysia is a secular state, held the G25. “That’s what our forefathers and the framers of the Federal Constitution had intended.”

Further, said the G25 statement, Malaysia is multi-religious, multiracial and multi-cultural. “Hudud is inappropriate and unacceptable to the vast majority of the Malaysian society.

Moreover, stressed G25, a law such as the Kelantan hudud Bill of 2015 was unconstitutional by reason of Article 8 — equality before the law — of the Federal Constitution. “Muslims in Kelantan will be subjected to two sets of laws, the hudud and the Penal Code.”

The State of Kelantan Bill of 2015 prescribes hudud punishments for offences like adultery, theft, robbery, sodomy, consumption of liquor and apostasy. “There’s also fear that if Hadi’s Bill were to be passed by Parliament, it will open the door to all other states to introduce hudud and the more severe forms of punishments.”

“The Bill, therefore, has long-term and far-reaching implications.”

The G25 statement went on to urge the Government of Kelantan to focus on improving the lives of the people of the state, the poorest in the country with the highest incidence of social ills. “Surely, Kelantan needs no reminding that Prophet Muhammad, and the pious Caliphs who succeeded him, had always emphasized the people’s welfare instead of a punitive approach to governing.”

The government has a fiducial and moral duty towards the citizens to build a happy and prosperous Malaysia, reminded the statement. “What was more important to the life of the people and their happiness was how well the country was governed.”

“This is about creating an environment of peace and stability, with all citizens feeling secure about the future.”

Good governance, honest and responsible leadership, and a caring attitude by social and political leaders for the problems of the poor and the disadvantaged should be given high priority, stressed G25. “They are essential for the economic and social progress of the country.

“Our leaders should focus their attention on these responsibilities in governing the country, instead of playing dangerous politics with hudud.”

In an unprecedented move last Thursday, Putrajaya tabled a motion to suspend its business in the Dewan Rakyat in order to fast-track a Private Member’s Bill brought by PAS President and Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang.

The Motion to prioritise the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016 (Hadi’s Bill) was moved by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said.