KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Former chief justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad said he refused the offer to head Putrajaya’s National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) as he believed from the start it would fail to protect the interests of the Malays.
Abdul Hamid said he now felt vindicated as the council formed to help draft laws to replace the Sedition Act has allegedly become a “tool” for the opposition to push their ideologies.
“I feared I would become a traitor to Islam and the Malay race,” Abdul Hamid wrote in an opinion piece published in Malay language daily Utusan Malaysia today.
“I had made up my mind before I knew the composition and the names of the NUCC’s members.”
Abdul Hamid said Bumiputera Christians on the panel, who are disheartened by the “Allah” controversy, will “play along not realising their rights will also erode”.
The NUCC has come under the microscope since proposing three laws — Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill, National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill and National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill — to replace the Sedition Act.
The NUCC’s proposed legislations are to bolster the council’s National Unity Blueprint and as instruments to avoid and reduce racial and religious conflicts in the country.
Abdul Hamid said Putrajaya had “directly or indirectly” entrusted the policy-making decisions to the opposition, in reference to Parit Buntar PAS MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa and the Bar Council’s former chief Lim Chee Wee.
Mujahid heads the NUCC’s working committee on law and policy with Lim as his deputy.
Abdul Hamid took pot shots at the duo, particularly at Lim whom he insisted represents the interest of the Malaysian Bar “whose political view is an open secret”.
The Bar and its governing Bar Council are regularly accused of being supportive of the opposition and less so towards the establishment.
Illustrating his point, he said at an annual dinner organised by the Bar post Election 2008, former leaders of the legal fraternity had extolled the breakthrough made by the Pakatan Rakyat pact.
“That’s the kind of official event hosted by the Bar Council with the Chief Justice as the guest of honour! I wanted to walk out but I did not want to draw attention, so I sat patiently,” Abdul Hamid recounted.
“You may ask what’s wrong with selecting members of the opposition to be chair the committee? That is akin to saying that after Barisan Nasional (BN) worked hard to win the Election 2013 it sidesteps its voters to win the heart of the opposition,” he said.
Abdul Hamid warned that if the government was to allow the Bar Council to draft the legislation, it would be emphasising the interest of the opposition.
“I stress that I do not oppose consulting the opposition on bills... but not until you give them the rights to decide on policies and drafting of laws,” said Abdul Hamid.
“The Umno government, and PAS, will be responsible if the bills are passed as it would erode the rights of the Malays and the position of Islam... Leaders from Sabah and Sarawak will also not be exonerated from that responsibility,” he said.
Earlier this month, the NUCC unveiled three draft bills that it is proposing to take the place of the law it described as a leftover from British colonial rule.
But the council is meeting with increasing resistance over its proposals, which critics — mainly from the Malay-Muslim community — allege would undermine Bumiputera special privileges.