Pensiangan formula to address the political and constitutional stalemate created by UMNO’s support for Hadi’s private member’s bill motion on RUU355
An idea came to me during my visit to Pensiangan and Sook in the last three days on a formula which could address the political and constitutional stalemate which had haunted Malaysia for the best part of this year as a result of the initially surreptitious support of key UMNO leaders for PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Awang Hadi’s private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355).
I was visiting Pensiangan as part of my visit to the Sabah Interior which also include Tenom and Keningau together with DAPSY leader and Perak DAP State Assemblyman for Canning, Wong Kah Woh; National DAPSY Publicity Secretary Henry Shim; Sabah DAP Chairman and MP for Sandakan, Steven Wong; Sabah DAP Adviser and MP for Kota Kinabalu, Jimmy Wong; Sabah DAP Deputy Chairman and Sabah State Assemblyman for Kepayang Dr. Edwin Bosi; DAP Sabah Vice Chairman and Keningau DAP Branch Chairman Peter Saili; Sabah DAP Publicity Secretary Phoong Jin Zhe; Sabah DAP Director of Political Education, Adrian Lasimbang; Melalap DAP Branch Chairperson Grelydia Gillod; Pensiangan DAP Assistant Co-ordinators Clare Taunek and Robinson Rusikan.
The majority of the people in Tenom, Keningau and Pensiangan are Christians.
The MP for Pensiangan is Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of national unity.
But Kurup was not in any “national unity” mindset when he warned Putrajaya in May this year that Sabahans and Sarawakians may demand to split from peninsular Malaysia if Hadi’s private member’s bill is passed in Parliament.
Kurup said Hadi’s private member’s bill risks dividing East and West Malaysia and called for its withdrawal.
He said: “If it is forced into Parliament and passed, I’m afraid it will trigger more feelings among the people of Sabah and Sarawak to go their separate ways.
“They [Federal government] shouldn’t have the slightest thought of introducing this law.”
On the last day of the Budget meeting in November when Hadi’s private member’s bill was expected to come up again, the MCA mouthpiece, The Star, devoted the whole of its front-page to Hadi’s private member’s motion with the headline “Solid ‘NO’ to Hadi’s Bill”, featuring the quotes and pics from leaders of five Barisan Nasional leaders, namely from MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PBB and PBS.
But at the Parliamentary meeting on the same day, all the Ministers of the non-UMNO BN component parties, in particular the Presidents of MCA, Gerakan, MIC and from the Sabah and Sarawak Barisan Nasional component parties gave tacit support to Hadi to stand up to amend his private member’s motion and bill.
Talk then was that the leaders of other 13 BN component parties had agreed to support Hadi’s amended private member’s motion provided Hadi’s private member’s bill is taken over by UMNO as a government bill in the March meeting of Parliament.
Hadi’s private member’s bill motion had therefore made progress and moved one step further to the March meeting of Parliament when it is expected to be passed with support of UMNO and Barisan Nasional MPs – which would be equivalent to the first reading of Hadi’s private member’s bill.
However, thanks to two UMNO leaders, it is now clear that some UMNO leaders have set up a “political trap” for all the other 13 BN component parties and their leaders and MPs.
We must thank two UMNO leaders, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Jamil Kamil Khir Baharom and the Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Ahmad Mazlan for letting the cat out of the bag in their speeches to the UMNO Overseas Club Alumni annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 18th December 2016.
Jamil admitted that Hadi’s Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) enabled the government to circumvent the due constitutional process, as requiring consensus from all states, the National Islamic Council and the Rulers’ Conference.
Jamil explained: “You can’t bring it to the Rulers Conference if you don’t have consensus from 14 states, but a private member’s bill requires only one state or one person to table it.”
Jamil said that when Hadi’s private member’s bill motion moves to the second reading stage, it would be taken over by the government and read out by him.
Ahmad Maslan, on the other hand, said BN component parties will not be able to object against amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) once the relevant bill is taken over by the Federal Government as BN component parties are compelled to support the bill as part of the ruling coalition.
What Jamil and Ahmad Maslan revealed is clearly a double-pincer strategy of subterfuge involving two circumventions – first, circumventing the constitutional process to secure the consensus from the 14 states and the support of the National Islamic Council and the Rulers’ Conference; and secondly, circumventing the Barisan Nasional consensus of all the 14 BN component parties for any policy or measure to be adopted in the name of Barisan Nasional Government.
In fact, Ahmad Mazlan went one step further and publicly admitted that the ulterior objective of UMNO’s support for Hadi’s private member’s bill motion was to cement UMNO’s “unity” with PAS!
Former Law Minister, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said that Jamil is wrong and that whether the bill is moved by Hadi or Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the requirements are the same – that the consensus of the states as well as the consent of the Malay Rulers are necessary prerequisites before such a bill can be passed by Parliament into law, as Islamic laws are under the purview of the states and the Malay Rulers.
But what Malaysians, whether in Sabah, Sarawak or Peninsular Malaysia, want to know is whether the other 13 Barisan Nasional component parties, and their leaders and Ministers, are so naive and gullible that they can so easily walk into the “trap” laid out by some UMNO leaders on Hadi’s private member’s bill motion.
The perfidy of some UMNO leaders who have no qualms in reneging and destroying the much-vaunted principle of Barisan Nasional consensus which proved that Barisan Nasional is a coalition of equals and not a coalition of UMNO hegemony must be a grave cause for concern and even consternation – not only to Barisan Nasional leaders and members, but to ordinary Malaysian citizens as well.
This is Barisan Nasional’s worst crisis since its formation in 1973 – as the Barisan Nasional “consensus” principle is being smashed into smithereens by surreptitious UMNO support for Hadi’s private member’s bill motion, despite overwhelming opposition by the majority of the other BN component parties.
The formula – which I would call the Pensiangan Formula - to address the political and constitutional stalemate created by Hadi’s private member’s bill is for the leaders and ministers of the other 13 BN component parties to requisition emergency meetings of BN Supreme Council and the Cabinet to reach a two-point consensus:
- Firstly, the government should not take over Hadi’s private member’s bill, which should remain on the parliamentary order paper; and
- Secondly, formation of an all-party Parliamentary Select Committee to study and make proposals on how to strengthen inter-religious relations in Malaysia based on the Malaysian Constitution, Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and Rukunegara, and which should study all proposals relating to religion, including Hadi’s private member’s bill motion.
The 13 other BN component parties, their leaders and Ministers, should not walk into the trap prepared by some UMNO leaders.
But do the ministers and leaders of the other 13 BN component parties have the courage of conviction and political principle to requisition for an emergency meeting of the Barisan Nasional to reach a two-point to address the political and constitutional stalemate caused by UMNO’s surreptitious support for Hadi’s private member’s bill motion?
Malaysians will get the answers to these questions soon enough!