Liow to quit Cabinet if PAS' Private Member's Bill is passed

MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
PHOTO: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has dropped a bombshell, saying that he will resign from the Cabinet if PAS' Private Member's Bill is passed in Parliament.

The Transport Minister said he was trying to muster the political will within Barisan Nasional and the Opposition to halt the Bill from going through.

But if that did not happen, said Liow, he was ready to leave his position in the Government - a decision which even he admitted would have "repercussions" on the political scene.

"I'm trying to stop it. I'm trying to get all the component parties to stop it. I am urging both sides of the political divide to come together and stop this Bill," Liow told The Star.

"If we cannot do it, we will have to sacrifice. I will resign.

"There's no point for me to stay on any more, you know. I have to be very firm on this.

"In principle, I cannot accept this unconstitutional act. I was thinking of saying this in the press conference yesterday (Friday)," said Liow.

He has been one of the most vocal critics of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's Bill, which was brought forward in the Order Paper in Parliament on Thursday.

The Bill, said Liow, was spurred on by PAS' motivation to implement hudud in Kelantan and that he would be steadfast in opposing any such Bill that would contravene the Federal Constitution.

"It is very scary. The country will be chaotic. There will be two judicial systems.

"How are you going to face the country like that?" he said.

On Friday, in a joint statement with three presidents from other Barisan Nasional component members, Liow had voiced displeasure that the Bill was brought forward in Parliament over other government matters and that this was not discussed within the Cabinet or the Barisan supreme council.

Asked about MCA's position in Barisan should the Bill be debated and passed, Liow said the party would continue to stay on in the ruling coalition.

"I'm not going to talk about that (MCA in Barisan). We want to be in Barisan. We have to talk about Barisan spirit. You see when you are in Barisan, you need to have Barisan spirit.

"We need to have the consensus in Barisan to stop this Bill. I think that is more important. I think stopping this Bill is more important." he said.

Liow stressed that he was making the statements in his capacity as the Transport Minister.

"MCA has to continue (in Barisan). But I am prepared for it (to leave Cabinet).

"I am not worried about what I have said," said Liow.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said had moved a motion to push Hadi's Bill - which was earlier listed as No. 15 or the last item - up the Order Paper.

However, Hadi had requested for the Bill to be only debated at the next Parliament meeting in October.

The Private Member's Bill seeks to primarily remove the safeguards referred to the "3-6-5 Safeguards" from the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, otherwise known as Act 355.

The "3-6-5 Safeguards" provides that any offence punishable under the Syariah Courts is limited to an imprisonment term of not more than three years, whipping of not more than six strokes or a fine of not more than RM5,000 (S$1,686).

"This is in the interest of the consistency and uniformity of our laws. What Abdul Hadi's Private Member's Bill is trying to do right now is to dismantle all of these and the Bill, in its current form - if passed - is against the spirit of the Federal Constitution, which is Article 8 on equality before the law," said Liow.

Article 8 (1) of the Constitution provides that "all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law".

DAP, said Liow, must be held responsible for strengthening PAS over the recent years, which had culminated in this outcome (tabling of the Bill), and for exposing the Constitution to harm now.

"DAP knew all this while that PAS is all out to implement hudud. Yet, DAP had gone all out to convince the Chinese to support PAS, obviously for its own political agenda.

"DAP has cheated the Chinese.

"The Chinese would never have supported PAS - the root of the problem - if not because of DAP," Liow said.