poin agamaKUCHING (May 1): Sarawak is under no obligation to follow the federal government’s decision on hudud law as the state’s rights on such matters are clearly enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement.

Lawyer Baru Bian said he was disappointed with Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman (click here) for stating on Tuesday that the state would abide by any decision made by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the motion of the private bill for hudud.

Baru, who is also state PKR chief and Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said Daud’s statement showed a lack of understanding of the rights of Sarawak, which are protected under the Malaysia Agreement.

“For Sarawak, the stand is very clear. The first of the 18 points of agreement relates to religion, and it points to the paramount concern our forefathers had about protecting this most precious freedom for Sarawakians,” Baru said in a press statement yesterday.

Baru said the stand on religion was one of the pivotal factors in Sarawak agreeing to join the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

“Let there be no doubt that in accordance with the vision of our forefathers, Sarawak remained and should remain a secular state.”

Hence, he added, there should be no hudud law for Sarawak.

“Even the former chief minister (Pehin Sri) Abdul Taib Mahmud had consistently rejected all forms of religious extremism in Sarawak. How can we simply follow the prime minister’s stand when he is neither here nor there?

“The prime minister’s response should be that Malaysia is a secular country as provided in the Federal Constitution and that there is no place for the implementation of hudud law unless the Federal Constitution is amended to allow for it.”

Despite assurances given by some political leaders that hudud would not affect non-Muslims even if it were implemented, Baru said he was not convinced as recent developments in the peninsula clearly infringed on the rights of non-Muslims.

“I want to make it clear that we are not opposing hudud for the purpose of rejecting Islam nor are we claiming new rights for ourselves. We are talking about maintaining the status quo under the social contract that was agreed among the partners in the Federation of Malaysia.

“The decision had already been made for us and it is not for Datuk Daud, one or two state governments or even the prime minister, to make any alterations to those rights.”

Baru pointed out that the power to amend the Sarawak Constitution or the Federal Constitution insofar as the changes affect the rights of Sarawak belonged exclusively to the people of Sarawak.

“These safeguards were promulgated to ensure that our rights cannot be taken from us without our consent. With such hurdles to clear, it is obvious that the framers of the Sarawak and Federal Constitutions had every intention of preserving our autonomy.

“Why should Datuk Daud just throw all that away by declaring we will follow Najib? Given his (Najib) pathetic track record in controlling religious extremists and bigots in Peninsular Malaysia, we will be led into the dark abyss of racial strife and religious intolerance should we be so foolish as to follow him.”

Baru urged state leaders to be more knowledgeable about the state’s history and about the state’s constitutional rights and be more assertive in speaking up for these rights of Sarawak and Sarawakians so that the harmony in the community would be protected and preserved for generations to come. Source

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