‘Sarawak BN may waver over Hadi’s bill’

Chong-Chieng-Jen-sarawak-huduhKUCHING: Sarawak BN MPs may waver on their stand against Hadi’s bill if the government tables it as specifically applying to Muslims in Peninsular Malaysia, while excluding non-Muslims and East Malaysians.

Sarawak DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen said if a deal had been struck with assurances given that Sarawak would be unaffected by the bill, that would be a “clear-cut lie”.

“After the passing of this bill, like all other bills, all it takes is for one signature of one minister before it will be extended to Sarawak. It will no longer require another debate or resolution in Parliament before it is extended to Sarawak,” Chong said.

He was responding to a front page report by Sin Chew Daily today, which stated that it had received a preliminary draft of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) that will replace PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill.

In order to appease the non-Muslims and East Malaysians, the newly amended bill, scheduled to be tabled in the current parliamentary sitting, will specify that it is applicable to West Malaysian Muslims only, and will not be applicable to non-Muslims and East Malaysians, Sin Chew Daily reported.

Chong said Sarawakians would still be exposed to punishment under the new laws.

“There are hundreds of thousands of Sarawakians now working in West Malaysia. They will be subject to the same law under Act 355 once it is passed. All of them are Sarawakians, but their constitutional rights to a single system of criminal justice will be changed,” Chong said.

He added that new harsher Islamic laws would be discriminatory and would amount to having two punishments for one offence.

“This amounts to a back-door violation of the constitutional framework of our country,” he said.

Chong charged that the Sarawak BN government, led by Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg, would not stand up to Putrajaya.

“All Sarawak BN MPs have been gagged by Abang Johari not to speak on this matter anymore,” Chong told reporters at the state’s party headquarters today. There are 47 BN MPs from East Malaysia, of which 25 are from Sarawak.

“The whole development of this has shown that, in the BN, Umno’s wishes will always prevail. The other parties have no say. The value of PAS to Umno exceeds the value of all the other BN components put together,” he said.

He added that the only way to “protect the integrity” of Malaysia’s secular constitution was to “make Umno the opposition”..

“That is the only chance we have to stop ‘Umnoism’ and its culture from continually eroding our rights,” he said.

In its report, Sin Chew quoted a source as saying that the government’s draft may only make minor changes to Hadi’s proposals, such as increasing the fine from RM5,000 to RM50,000 (instead of RM100,000 as proposed by Hadi), caning from six strokes to 100, and the maximum jail term from three years to 20 years as opposed to Hadi’s 30 years..

The source added that the last sitting of the current parliamentary session would be extended from April 6 to April 11 to facilitate the adoption of the government’s bill.

BN is expected to hold a supreme council meeting on March 28.