PETALING JAYA: The position of the nine state rulers in the country could come under threat in the long term should the private member’s bill by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) be passed by the Dewan Rakyat, says Zaid Ibrahim.
Warning that the passage of the bill could lead to greater Islamisation in the country and the “Talibanisation of the Malays”, the former minister said it was therefore, in the interest of the rulers not to support the bill, which has come to be known as “Hadi’s Bill”.
“It is in the interest of the Malay Rulers that Malays and other Muslim Malaysians should remain modern and progressive in their outlook and values. Only in this way can the country be prosperous and safe.
“An impoverished and war-torn country will not be able to cater to the well-being of any one monarch, let alone nine of them. This is because there is no country in the world that is peaceful when religious parties are allowed to impose religious laws,” Zaid wrote in his latest blog posting.
“The future of Their Royal Highnesses as constitutional monarchs can be guaranteed only if Malaysia is Taliban-free and remains a modern country with some democratic features.”
Zaid’s argument stemmed from the actions by Mohd Tawfik Dr Ismail yesterday in filing an application in court for a judicial review to stop PAS from pushing through the amendment to Act 355. Tawfik had also sent letters to the rulers seeking their intervention on the matter.
Tawfik is the son of Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, who served as deputy prime minister from 1970 until his untimely death in August 1973.
“Tawfik has a solid constitutional basis for his actions but in this country, we now have many Taliban sympathisers among ‘revisionist’ lawyers and judges who put forward their own self-serving interpretations of the Constitution in order to promote the Taliban agenda,” Zaid said.
He added that these “Malaysian Taliban” were those who were fascinated with the Bedouin culture and traditions that existed in pre-Islamic Saudi Arabia.
“The Malay Rulers must thus be wary of the Taliban among their advisers and underlings. They must be wary of Malay political leaders who are good storytellers but who can offer nothing useful for the development of the people.”
Zaid, who joined DAP earlier this year, also gave the example of countries which Malaysia should emulate.
“Countries such as Indonesia (minus Aceh), Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria are generally more peaceful, because they don’t have laws such as those proposed on the amendment to Act 355.
“Women in these countries are free to work and have rights as men do. Their education systems are better. They don’t have child-marriage, public whipping and they don’t send off Muslims to jail for not praying or fasting,” Zaid said.
He added that the rulers also had a constitutional duty to protect the customs and traditions of the Malay people.
“This refers to the general character of Malays, such as being a peaceful and easy-going people who love fun, music and culture. They must be protected.
“The rulers must ensure that Malays are, like them, wise to the ways of the world and able to live in comfort. They will be failing in their duties if Malays shun modern education, modern music, oppose vaccinations and start living in ‘communes’,” Zaid said.
“The ‘Malaysian Taliban’, on the other hand, want to prohibit Malays from having fun and they don’t have policies that empower the people. They only like to shame people and put them in jail for long periods.”