Encroachment on minorities’ constitutional rights will nullify Pakatan MoU with govt, says Guan Eng

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DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today warned ‘racist and extreme groups’ within the government against pushing any legislation that encroaches on the constitutional rights of Malaysia’s minority citizens. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today warned ‘racist and extreme groups’ within the government against pushing any legislation that encroaches on the constitutional rights of Malaysia’s minority citizens. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today warned “racist and extreme groups” within the government against pushing any legislation that encroaches on the constitutional rights of Malaysia’s minority citizens.

The warning came on the back rumours that Islamist members of the government led by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob are planning to push ahead with a controversial Shariah Bill that some critics said would infringe on the rights of non-Muslim faiths.

“Racist and extremist groups within the government should stop any intention of imposing Shariah laws on non-Muslims or restrict the practice of their religion in accordance with the Federal Constitution,” Lim said in a statement.

He added that Pakatan Harapan (PH) would consider such a move to be a violation of the bilateral memorandum of understanding to halt all political hostilities signed between the government and the Opposition coalition last week.

“Despite the MoU not covering other areas not mentioned, let me state categorically that if fundamental constitutional rights are adversely affected, the MoU would also cease to have effect and be nullified,” Lim said.

The agreement, which some observers called “historic”, mostly touched on the government’s pandemic response.

PH said it would avoid holding any act “that can be construed” as a confidence vote against Ismail Sabri, and will support all efforts to put the country back on the recovery path on the condition that bilateralism takes place in all policy decisions, including for the upcoming Budget.

But Lim said the MoU also covers the protection of fundamental constitutional rights of both Muslims and status of Islam as well as the rights of non-Muslims and freedom of religion to practise their own religion amongst non-Muslims.

Policies that are seen as infringing on these rights contravenes the spirit of the bilateral pact, he suggested.

The Islamic affairs portfolio under the Prime Minister’s Department was recently reported to have proposed new Shariah Bills which included the contentious abovementioned one.

The minister in charge, Idris Ahmad, a PAS leader, later claimed the controversy was due to misinterpretation as the proposed Bill was only to prevent the propagation of non-Muslim beliefs to Muslims and would only apply to the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.

PH leaders have remained sceptical since no other leader from the coalition, including Ismail Sabri, has publicly issued a statement about the matter.

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