KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — MIC president Tan Sri Vigneswaran Sanasee today said the Indian-centric party is fine with its Barisan Nasional (BN) partner Umno’s political pact with PAS and sees no problem with a push to implement stricter Shariah criminal laws in the country.
Vigneswaran told reporters at the Umno general assembly here that MIC is not against amending the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, shortened as Act 355 — which will pave the way for hudud in Malaysia.
“We are not against Act 355. MIC is not against it. As far as we’re concerned, if they bring back Act 355 and implement it, it’s up to them.
“The Constitution takes care of the non-Muslims and there’s nothing wrong with it as Islam has nothing to do with the non-Muslims,” he added when asked if the Indian party would have issues with PAS’ Islamist principles in the pact with Umno known as Muafakat Nasional.
Muafakat Nasional became the battlecry during the Umno wings assemblies yesterday to galvanise the Opposition party to take back Putrajaya at the next general election due in 2023.
Yesterday, Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki called for Muafakat Nasional to be institutionalised.
Vigneswaran who previously said he is keen for MIC to join the pact was today asked to comment on Asyraf’s remark.
“I don’t think this government will approve of that Muafakat Nasional. I don’t think (it) will be registered, but if it does, then good,” he replied.
“You see, MIC is part of BN. Muafakat Nasional is absorbing PAS into a working relationship. Umno and PAS who were arch enemies in the past are now together under the broader view of Malay-Islam.
“So if they can work together, I don’t see why MIC and MCA can’t work together,” he added.
Vigneswaran said he hopes that in Muafakat Nasional, all parties will work together but added that there should be certain rules set beforehand to ensure none are marginalised if the Opposition pact wins the 15th general election.
“There is always a possibility that after GE15 there could be differences of opinions, but if we do things properly and put a system in place so that say after GE15 BN wins, none of us are sidelined.
“We’re not working together just to win but also to have a better understanding between the Malays and Indians because even after 50 years of working together we still have misunderstandings between races,” he said.
There have been several legal battles involving Indians of the Hindu faith and Muslims due to conversion disputes in the past and the MIC had been an outspoken defender of the community’s rights then.
Malaysia’s dual-track legal system provides for Islamic courts to operate alongside the civil courts.
Two years ago, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang sought to table a contentious private member’s Bill to amend Act 255 that would empower the Islamic courts to enforce any punishment — except for the death penalty — provided in Shariah laws for Islamic offences listed under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution.
The Bill was criticised then for the harsh penalties proposed in Section 2 of the Act is, include increasing the current “imprisonment of more than three years or fine of more than RM5,000, or more than six lashes” to “jail term of more than 30 years or fine more than RM100,000 or 100 lashes as administered in line with the Shariah crimes”.