Source Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--As I watched the conferment of Tan Sri-ships on Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (immediate past president of MCA) and Datuk Seri Hadi Awang (president of PAS) by our King very recently, I am reminded of the earlier RUU 355 (PAS Private Member’s Bill) episode some five years ago.

RUU 355 seeks to enhance the Syariah Court punishments from the maximum three years imprisonment, six strokes of the rotan and a RM5, 000 fine to 30 years, 100 strokes and RM100,000. 

The proponents’ fundamental argument is that the jurisdiction only covers persons professing the religion of Islam. In plainer language it meant “It is none of your business (so butt out)”.

Liow was in a serious quandary

He truly believed that RUU355 was part of PAS’s Grand Design to in time replace our secular laws (criminal and civil) hence it fell into his obligation. 
His colleagues in the Umno top leadership tried to persuade him to drop it for after all it was a Private Member’s Bill, which normally keeps going farther down the queue every time a government Bill is received.  
And half his party colleagues too, particularly the general election candidates, preferred that he didn’t pursue the issue vociferously because virtually all MCA constituencies rely on Malay votes to win. 
And finally, the feedback from the local Umno Bentong division (Liow’s constituency) was that he can plausibly lose 3,000-5,000 Malay votes if he doesn’t retract from his “anti-RUU355 stance”.

Liow decided his greater mission is to champion the nation’s cause; nevermind that his seat could be at stake.

At the MCA 2017 AGM, opposing the RUU355 was the central theme in the President’s speech. Two party stalwarts as special guests seated in the first row were certain that they saw Datuk Seri Najib Razak (invited as BN chairman and prime minister) nodding in quiet agreement.

The following year Liow lost his Bentong seat by 2032 votes. In the post-mortem the BN campaign team postulated that 5,800 Malay votes were lost on account of that single factor.

To each their own

RUU355 has resurfaced. Now it would not be a Private Member’s Bill.

We had the much ado about the Timah name, 4-D shop licence non-renewal and heightened control of liquor sales which even barred Chinese medicine shops! What recent or past calamities can be directly attributed to these issues?

The “Control on the Propagation of non-Muslim Religions Bill” that is being drafted is a PAS minister’s initiative. Apparently a similar type bill already exists in all states except in Sabah, Sarawak and Penang. 
We know that proselytising of Muslims is explicitly prohibited. So what are going to be the main thrusts of this new proposed Bill?

That Christmas songs cannot be played to the public for fear that some lyrics may be too “enticing”? Maybe a playlist had to be submitted to a censorship panel before airing? “Jingle Bells and the Red Nose reindeer” are already ringing in my ears!

Next will be that chicken rice shops can only be openly available without “char siew rice” or “siew yoke rice” on the menu? Will Petaling Street be eventually known as “Bak Kut Teh Street” because that is the only location this cultural delight is allowed?

I am a die-hard fan of the Cold War-era espionage and therefore am pretty acquainted with the rigid controls the Soviet Union and cohorts regimes had inflicted on their citizenry. 
It is quite unbelievable that owing to an Ideological conflict so many millions suffered so much beginning from 1947. The collapse of Eastern Europe in 1989, reunification of Germany in 1990 and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 ended the “State-controlled” authoritarian rule.

Strict obedience to clearly prescribed rules on what the citizen can or cannot do is the order of the day. Yes, it means what they can or cannot read, write, listen and watch are spelt out. 
Criticisms are acts of disloyalty to the state. Heck, just check out the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I do get a kick out of spelling our North Korea’s official name every time.

Certainly no regime now however dastardly can succeed in turning the clock back in our technology-driven world.

Whichever the case, we want our Malaysian way of life preserved. Simply put ― “To each their own”. Our Rukun Negara recitation is explicit on our core principles/values.


The Syariah Courts were established to have jurisdiction in matters of Muslim family law and religious observances. One wonders what type of transgressions within this ambit that can necessitate such massive punishments as prescribed in RUU355?

We must thank Liow for trying to alert us. It is not your lone fight anymore. It is now every Malaysian's obligation to preserve our Malaysian way of life.

We mustn’t allow it to be trampled upon.

*Datuk Lee Yew Meng was the former CEO of the Design Thinking School of Malaysia. He is now the Corporate Advisor of Adamantine Resources Sdn Bhd*