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Wednesday, December 14, 2016


The Perlis state assembly passed the amendment to Section 117(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment 2006, with MCA’s Titi Tinggi assemblyman Khaw Hock Kong becoming the target of public wrath.
MCA has always been against this motion, but the party’s sole representative in the state assembly chose to walk out during the critical moment instead of decisively casting the “nay” vote.
There are only two non-Muslim reps in the 15-seat Perlis assembly. Even if these two reps were to vote against the amendment, they were not going to change the decision in any way, but at least a “nay” vote would reflect MCA’s attitude and stand on this issue.
Walking out of the assembly is a passive and irresponsible way of protesting.
MCA central committee later accepted Khaw’s explanation on the walkout, however they still felt he had not acted as per the party’s instruction to clearly express the party’s stand. As a result, MCA came under attack and subsequently issued a stern written warning to Khaw.
Disciplinary action is the best way for MCA to answer to party members as well as the local Chinese community, and this whole thing should come to a close now. Nevertheless, the incident has brought out two connotation.
Firstly, MCA had only instructed Khaw to clearly express the party’s opposition to the amendment but not to cast a “nay” vote.
Secondly, MCA thought a walkout protest should have been good enough to reflect MCA’s stand on the issue.
As an elected rep from MCA,what made it so difficult for Khaw to cast a “nay” vote on an unfair bill that would infringe on the rights of non-Muslims in the state? If he had been instructed by the party to stage a walkout protest, did it mean MCA was undecided or wavering over the issue pertaining the rights of the Chinese community such that it could not make a firm decision?
The argument that Khaw was English educated and would interpret “walkout” as “against” was meant to whitewash the blunder and was totally unconvincing.

An English educated state assemblyman should have been able to tell the differences between “walkout” or “abstention” and “against”. He should have known that there were only three options when casting a vote in the state assembly, namely “yea”, “nay” or abstention.
Walking out during the crucial moment of voting is in its essence giving up the right to vote, or abstention.
In politics, “abstention” is yet another way of voting in the assembly, indicating that the rep is unwilling to cast either a “yea” or “nay” vote or being neutral. Abuse of the abstention vote is perceived as a pretext to evade responsibility.
On the international front, if a country abstains from voting, it should not be interpreted as the country being against a motion. It could be because the time is not yet ripe for the country to formally express its stand on a particular issue, or that it has some reservations and has therefore opted to stay neutral.
For the past 25 years, the UN general assemblies have been passing the motion with a landslide to urge the United States to lift trade sanctions on Cuba, and for all those years the US has been casting a “nay” vote. However, the US chose to abstain for the first time during this year’s general assembly on November 26, signaling Washington’s implied “approval” of lifting the sanctions on Cuba and its readiness to restore diplomatic ties with the Caribbean island state.
From here we can see that abstention cannot fully reflect MCA’s opposition to the Islamic bill, and this passive form of expression has sunken MCA deeper into the dilemma.
– http://mysinchew.com.my/

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