Don’t ‘disappear’ when RUU355 is tabled, Sarawak PKR tells MPs

Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian hopes the Federal Court’s ruling that the consent of both parents is needed to convert a minor will put an end to cases of unilateral conversions of minors. — File picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, March 19 — Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian today told Sarawak federal lawmakers that they must have the courage to reject RUU355 if it is tabled in Parliament.

He said there must be no absences, convenient “meetings” or urgent “official trips” that require them to be away from Parliament should the PAS Bill, which seeks to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), be tabled and presented for voting.

He said they must be present to vote against the Bill to carry the Sarawak conscience and the aspiration of the country Malaysia is meant to be.

“Let the Hansard show that Sarawakian MPs have the courage and the conviction to stand up and be counted when it matters most,” he said at a press conference.

“At the same time, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg must instruct all Sarawakian MPs to be present in Parliament when the Bill to amend the Act, which is also known as Act 355, is tabled and debated, and to vote against it,” he said.

The Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman said it is crucial that Sarawakians stand together to defend the rights which they secured under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the Malaysia Act, the pre-formation documents and the Federal Constitution.

He said Abang Johari was right to be concerned about the discriminatory and unconstitutional elements in the proposed amendments to Act 355. The Sarawak chief minister had raised with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak constitutionality issues with the Bill, with respect to equality for all under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

“We cannot accept Shariah law, for Malaysia already has a supreme law, which is the Federal Constitution,” Baru said, pointing out that the implementation of Shariah law requires an amendment of the Federal Constitution.

The proposed amendments to Act 355 seek to raise the maximum penalties for shariah offences to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the rotan.

Currently, the shariah courts may impose sentences not exceeding three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the rotan.

Sarawak Barisan Nasional parties — Parti Rakyat Sarawak and Sarawak United People’s Party — have said that they would instruct their federal lawmakers to vote against the Bill.