Equal rights to speak on hudud

May I as a non-Malay and non-Muslim, warmly welcome and applaud my brother Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim and my sister Zainah Anwar “Citizens have right to criticise” (The Star, May 6) , and “Let’s not be hoodwinked into hudud”, (Sunday Star, May 4) for their excellent comments on the right of all Malaysians to comment on PAS’ hudud and any matter that affects us all as loyal Malaysian citizens.

I would agree with all moderate Malaysians that Malaysia is a secular state and that the introduction of PAS’ hudud laws would be damaging to domestic and international confidence.

It could also be divisive and would definitely undermine our struggle for national unity.

As chairman of the National Unity Consultative Council’s “Committee on Inclusive Development”, I also believe that the negative and irresponsible attitude of extremists, who try to deny non-Muslims their citizen’s right to constructively criticise PAS’ hudud, is fundamentally flawed and basically undemocratic.

After all, in a maturing democracy such as ours, open and healthy public discussion should be strongly encouraged as our basic human right.

Hence, those who say that we non-Malays and non-Muslims have no right to comment on syariah and PAS’ hudud laws that can affect all Malaysians in one way or another should be chastised by the silent majority of moderate Malaysians.

In fact, all political leaders, and especially those from the Government and the enforcement authorities, would need to take appropriate and proper action against all those extremists and fanatics who cause public ill will and social tension and threaten social stability.

Sheriff’s assertion that the world is watching us should be taken very seriously by all right-thinking Malaysians. The world will watch how we handle this sensitive and controversial PAS’ hudud issue.

Our international relations, inter alia, in economics, trade, investment, tourism, politics, diplomacy, defence and security will certainly be adversely affected if we stray from our secular and moderate path and move gradually toward extremism!

All moderate Malaysians and especially our majority moderate Malays/Muslims must exert their rights and take the lead to support the Government in keeping to the straight and narrow path of moderation, peace, national unity and progress, in accordance with our Constitution and Rukun Negara.

Let us all, as loyal Malaysians, exercise our rights as citizens to reject and combat extremism and fanaticism with enthusiasm and dedication – before it is too late!

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