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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gerakan man reacts to Jeyakumar’s indecision on Hadi’s bill

Ivanpal Grewal Singh says MPs must regard the Federal Constitution as more important than their constituents' wishes.
Ivanpal-Grewal-Singh
PETALING JAYA: Selangor Gerakan Youth vice-chairman Ivanpal Grewal Singh has urged MPs to respect the Federal Constitution when voting in the Dewan Rakyat, even if they have to go against the wishes of their constituents.
He was prompted to make the call by a news report two days ago which quoted Sungai Siput MP Michael Jeyakumar as saying he would have to consult his constituents and colleagues in Parti Sosialis Malaysia before deciding how to vote on Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill, which seeks to give more power to shariah courts.
Ivanpal said he agreed that it would be proper to make a decision only after all stakeholders had been consulted, but he added that priority should be placed on respecting the constitution.
“If we’re only going to follow what our constituents want, then you have to remember that a lot of people don’t want to pay taxes,” he said. “Yet we still have to tax them.”
He said there were still several questions regarding the bill that needed to be answered before an informed decision could be made on it. He gave two example questions: whether strengthening the shariah courts would mean violating the constitution and whether the bill would be used to enable the introduction of hudud in Kelantan.
“On the face of it,” he said, “what Hadi is proposing is not something we can support. I think it’s important to have engagements and debates on it.
“The fact that he’s seeking such high penalties also makes me wonder whether the bill has received unanimous approval from Muslims.”
Penang DAP vice-chairman Zairil Khir Johari also commented on the matter. He said MPs had to play a “balancing role” when they vote.
“You have to vote according to what you think is best for as many stakeholders as possible, taking into account the law, people’s needs and desires, practicality and other things. It’s not one-dimensional.”
Zairil, who is the MP for Bukit Bendera, said any given constituency would have “all kinds” of people.
“Some think long term, some short term. So we have to balance all this out.”
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has said the government had decided to appoint a parliamentary select committee to conduct a deeper study into the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act of 1965, also known as Act 355. The committee will consist of Muslim and non-Muslim lawmakers.

The bill seeks to enable shariah courts to impose heavier penalties for shariah offences listed under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution. -FMT

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