RUU355 bill not a hindrance to Muafakat Nasional coalition, says MIC

MIC president SA Vigneswaran says MIC has no problem with the bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, if it is tabled again in the Dewan Rakyat.

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president SA Vigneswaran said today the private member’s bill tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to give shariah courts wider powers will not be a deterrent in forming a new coalition under Muafakat Nasional, replacing Barisan Nasional (BN).

He said MIC had no problem with the bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, known as RUU355, adding that he would throw his support behind it if it is tabled again in the Dewan Rakyat.

When asked whether he had any worries that a Muafakat Nasional government would see the country governed by Islamic law, Vigneswaran maintained that the Federal Constitution alone is enough to protect and guarantee the rights of non-Muslims.

“MIC is not against it (RUU355).

“MCA may have its own stand on it, but as far as MIC is concerned, if you bring up the RUU355 bill now, we will support it,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Umno general assembly here today.

RUU355 was tabled by Hadi in 2016 and was listed for second reading in March 2018 but never saw the light of day.

PAS’ Sik MP Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman recently asked the government in the Dewan Rakyat whether PH intended to table the bill.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa had said last year that the bill was not suitable within the framework of shariah laws.

Vigneswaran said MIC was eager to work with PAS, adding that it was important to work with them for both parties to better understand the Malay and Indian supporters.

“We (BN) have been working for 50 years but we still have so much disparity between societies. So, the only way to have a proper nation as Malaysians is to work with PAS.”

He stressed, however, that any move to institutionalise the alliance as a coalition would require careful study.

Meanwhile, MCA president Wee Ka Siong reiterated that there needed to be a better understanding on what Muafakat Nasional meant, insisting that there has been no decision to formalise the coalition.

Wee said it was a “non-starter” that BN might be abolished to make way for Muafakat Nasional, stressing that there is no doubt that the coalition still remained.

“We have to take a realistic position. We’re not part of the government, so we can’t form a coalition so easily.”

He said as long as it is inclusive in nature, moderate, taking into account all opinions, and respecting race and religion, MCA will give it support. He said it must not be against the Rukun Negara or the Federal Constitution.

“If we mention that no party or religion will be sidelined, no sane Malaysian would say no,” he added.