Is backing Hadi’s Syariah bill Umno’s play for power?

Is backing Hadi’s Syariah bill Umno’s play for power?

MP SPEAKS The truth is that the Umno-led federal government has been playing up to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to not just split the opposition but also to try and garner the support of its voter base.

And so Hadi’s proposed private member’s bill that seeks to increase the power of the Syariah courts to impose any kind of Syariah punishments, excluding the death penalty, is finally expected to be tabled when Parliament convenes on March 6.

The play of religion on politics is dangerous, especially in a country like Malaysia that is rich with racial, religious and cultural diversity.

It’s unclear how ruling party lawmakers will vote for the bill. But there are a few crucial issues that must be considered before they make a decision.

Syariah law will make Malaysia ‘regressive’, contribute further to the dipping ringgit, increase political instability and ensure the flight of foreign direct investment to neighbouring countries.

The ringgit has dipped to its lowest since the 1998 Asian financial crisis. And we can’t afford a continued weakening of the currency.

The Malaysian poor are struggling to make ends meets, caught in the rising cost of living. They have been further burdened by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) while the economy takes a hit because of falling commodity and decreasing exports.

And it’s not like Malaysia doesn’t have its share of issues that need the urgent attention of both state and federal governments.

People get shot dead in public, the latest being the gruesome murder of a transgender person, Shameera Krishnan.

We have been trying to get an independent oversight body to monitor death in police custody.

Kelantan and Terengganu are still waiting for concrete action plans to mitigate yearly floods that sweep away homes. Malaysia had the worst floods in 2015, with 21 deaths and 200,000 losing their homes.

People in Kelantan and Terengganu again lost their homes in massive floods on the eve of 2017. Kelantan was badly hit in 2015 as well.

Capitalising on a weak federal gov’t?

So PAS’ child-like adamance makes no sense to me. Unless of course it’s capitalising on a weak federal government that won’t hesitate to pull all stops to ensure victory at the next polls despite PAS’ version of Islamic penal laws in Kelantan going against the Federal Constitution, the country’s supreme law that protects the rights of every Malaysian and against the duality of sentencing.

Hadi’s hudud bill also enhances the power of the Syariah courts in penalising offenders, makes provisions for the chopping off of limbs for theft and may discriminate against the poor and women.

PAS itself has quite a bit of work to do actually, such as coming up with a plan to mitigate floods, do proper reconstruction exercises following the floods, protect the rights of the Orang Asli with regard to their land and address unemployment and poverty issues in the state of Kelantan.

All is not lost yet. We can be responsible and reject Hadi’s bill because it won’t contribute positively to the country, economy or the society.

Or we can hold on to greed for power and forsake the country and its people. But that won’t be surprising, would it?

Is backing Hadi’s Syariah bill Umno’s play for power?
26 Feb 2017 – Malaysiakini


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