A Vaithilingam • Sep 29, 11 9:32
Those who are used to Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Mat, understand him as a person who sounds tough but can be quite humane when pressured for a fair deal.
I remember when leading a Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) delegation in early 90s at Kota Bharu, he was insistent for the most part of the meeting on the implementation of the hudud laws in Kelantan.
However, he was quite cordial and respectful of our views. He kept on assuring us that the new laws would not infringe on our own respective religions and customs.
We parted most amicably with him agreeing to consider our views whilst at the same time he requested us to study his proposal.
Within a few weeks he had sent us the decision of his government not to impose the hudud laws and other Syariah Laws on non-Muslims.
We were also aware of the fact that the Parliament must amend the federal constitution before Kelantan government can implement the hudud laws on non-Muslims.
Our council then went on a nationwide campaign meeting all political party leaders to request them not to support any amendment to the constitution.
The problem we have in this country is that our non-Muslim MPs from the ruling party from peninsular and East Malaysia voted in the year 1988 in favour of amendments to Article 121(1) and (1A) of the federal constitution to severely diminish the power of the Civil Courts.
The irony was that Nik Aziz restored the freedom of non-Muslims to build temples and churches, and the demolition of places of worship was prevented and settled by discussion.
Even the lion dances banned before was brought back again in the 90s in Kelantan. As religious organisation leaders we found it embarrassing to criticise the Kelantan Government's restrictions on alcohol, gambling and vice.
However, it is my personal opinion that hudud laws and all other Islamic laws should not be implemented in Malaysia, given our multi-racial and multi-religious population.
It is not healthy for there to be two sets of criminal laws, and for Muslims and non-Muslims to face different punishments for the same offences.
A Vaithilingam is a former president of MCCBCHST.
You may read this article at http://malaysiakini.com/letters/177238
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