Prime minister cum Barisan Nasional president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced after chairing the BN Supreme Council meeting on Wednesday evening that the government had decided not to table the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 amendment bill (RUU355 amendment) owing to the BN spirit.
The announcement came as a relief to Malaysians who are against the amendment bill. This shows that the bill, which is set to further undermine our secular system and rock the nation-building foundation, will not be a government bill.
The RUU355 amendment bill will therefore remain a private member’s bill of PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, meaning the tabling of the bill will now depend on the Speaker’s decision according to the parliamentary agenda schedule.
The government’s decision not to table the bill has been a move in the right direction achieved through a BN consensus consistent with the BN spirit.
Prior to this, Umno’s insistence to take over the amendment bill has sparked widespread concerns among other BN component parties, believing the move could cause a split within the coalition and destroy the country’s constitutional democracy. The government’s subsequent decision to drop the bill shows that Umno is indeed willing to listen to the views of its allies. It has been a smart choice on the part of Umno to put the interests of the country and her people above its own political agenda having weighed the pros and cons of the move.
PAS’ stand on RUU355 and the eventual establishment of an Islamic state has been very clear. Even if the bill will not get tabled in the current parliamentary session, it doesn’t mean the party will not try again next time to push it through.
PAS has earlier secured the help of Umno to table the private member’s bill before the government’s bills but this was later postponed owing to some reasons before Umno declared that the government would take over. We hope this kind of things will not happen again in the future.
Anyway, Umno still owes us an explanation on its cooperation with PAS and whether this will end following its decision to drop the bill.
As Najib has yet to clearly state BN’s stand on the amendment bill, there is still room for both sides to cooperate in future. If the amendment bill eventually gets tabled in the Dewan Rakyat, Umno will very likely support Hadi Awang’s private bill. As such, other BN components must not lower their guard and must continue to stay firm to ensure that Umno adheres to the BN spirit.
Meanwhile, the opposition camp also has an inevasible duty to make sure that PAS will not get its way. It is hoped that Pakatan component parties will clearly state their common stand on this matter and wholly thwart PAS’ ambition of amending the RUU355 and establishing an Islamic state.
PAS used to be a member of the opposition alliance, and has won the support of voters thanks to the endorsement of Pakatan allies. Although PAS and the rest of Pakatan parties have gone separate ways due to their divergent philosophies, there is no way these former allies should wash their hands off this whole matter.
While DAP, PKR and Amanah have drawn the line between themselves and the Islamist party, individual parties still struggle to cling on to some ambiguous relations with it for their own political gains.
It is hoped that Pakatan parties will expressly declare their stand to uphold secularism, democracy and equality in their respective party platforms, and honor their words so as to win the approval and respect of the voters.