UMNO is desperate and is playing the race and religion card again, a Sabah leader said after Umno information chief Annuar Musa stated that Barisan Nasional was open to cooperation with PAS to enact stricter Islamic punishment.
Sabah DAP chairman Stephen Wong, was not alone in his opposition to the amendments to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, better known as RUU355.
In Sarawak, BN component party leaders restated their opposition to enacting stricter Islamic punishments.
At an event in Bachok, Kelantan, yesterday, Annuar told reporters that Umno sought “common ground for the sake of Muslims” regarding the RUU 355.
Annuar had said through the concept of “ta’awun” (cooperation) with PAS, a lot of good could be achieved, including amending RUU355.
“Umno is trying to play the race and religious card again. Umno is in a desperate situation and is playing with this dangerous issue,” Wong told The Malaysian Insight.
“It is gravely irresponsible, knowingly endorsing the law which will go against the federal constitution. If this happens, it will divide Malaysians.
“Our hope is Malaysians will be smart enough to reject Umno’s plans.”
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister James Jemut Masing said Parti Rakyat Sarawak remained opposed to RUU355.
Masing said the BN component party, which has six parliamentarians, would comment further once the Umno Supreme Council makes its stand on the issue.
Masing had instructed his party’s MPs to vote against the bill should it be tabled in Parliament, adding that Malaysia could not have two systems of justice.
“Hudud was not part of the deal when we formed the federation. It’s not in the Federal Constitution,” Masing had said.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang tabled a motion to amend RUU355 through a private member’s bill in the Dewan Rakyat in April.
Hadi wanted the government to empower shariah courts to hand down prison terms of up to 30 years, fines of up to RM100,000, and up to 100 strokes of caning.
Parliament Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, however, did not permit debates on the motion and ended the sitting right after PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan seconded the motion.
Michael Tiang, political secretary to the Sarawak chief minister, reminded Annuar that it was opposition from Sarawak BN that led to BN to distance itself from the tabling of RUU355.
“His comments would not in any way overturn BN’s unanimous decision made in March that the government would not table the amendment in the Parliament,” said Tiang, who is Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Pelawan branch chairman.
“Such an unanimous decision was based on general consensus…that BN, being the government of the day, has a duty to ensure that all Malaysians live in peace and be free from any constitutional crisis or mutual distrust,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
Tiang said the political interests of a component party should not be above BN’s principles and spirit.
“It is exactly by this very principle that BN has earned the trust of people of all races to rule this country for the past four decades,” Tiang added.