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New Straits Times 08 april 2001

No need to retract the Hadi decree: Rais
Authorities should take Hadi to syariah court, he proposes

Bucking a general consensus among his party, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Rais Yatim said today there is no need to seek a retraction of the Hadi Decree, claiming it would only give "undue recognition" to the 20-year-old speech by Pas' Abdul Hadi Awang.<

Rais instead urged the authorities to determine whether there was a case against Hadi, who is now Terengganu Menteri Besar.

"I strongly advise the enforcement agency connected with the Syariah law to look into the matter," he said after officiating the Cheras Umno division meeting, here.

"Not enough attention was being paid to examine the possibility of taking Hadi to court over the decree," he said. "I think its about time."

Rais cited the various sections under the country's laws which was capable of handling such matters.

They include Section 248 of the Sedition Act under the Penal Code, several provisions under current civil obedience laws, and in many of the State Syariah Offences Ordinances.

The Decree is a speech which Hadi delivered in Kampung Banggol Peradong, Kuala Terengganu, on April 7 1981.

The speech outlined how the political differences between Pas and Umno transcended into religious proportions, and read: "My brothers, believe me when I say that we are against Umno not because its name is Umno, we are not against Barisan Nasional not because its name is such.

"We are against them because they are maintaining the coloniser's laws, maintaining the rules of the non-believers."

It continued: "Believe me my brothers our struggle is syahid (Holy Struggle)... and if we die in this struggle, we die as martyrs."

Rais said Muslims in the country need not demand that the speech be retracted.

"At the time, Hadi was neither an ulamak, a member of the Fatwa council, nor an authoritative person who could issue views such as he was reported to do."

"What he said in his speech was a personal statement that was probably based on his learning or his experience," he added.

A retraction request, said Rais, would only paint a picture of the Muslims in this country as being a group of people who were constantly seeking others to retract what they had said.

"I don't think this is the way to fight against the abuse of religion," he said.

On the issue of the planned muzakarah (discussions) between Pas and the authorities to sort out the Decree issue which has been reported on in the past several days, Rais said he had no objections to it.

"Such discussions can be continued and can cover many issues.

"But if it is only based on asking him to retract a speech he allegedly made 20 years ago, it is not in line with our struggle to correct the situation," he said.

Rais was asked on the various reported comments by some Umno leaders, such as Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak and Datuk Paduka Abdul Hamid Othman, calling upon Hadi to retract the Decree.

He said he left it to the individual leaders to make their own interpretation and judgment on the issue.

"We cannot force Hadi to withdraw, because we lack the mechanism and power to ask him to do so.

"If Hadi says 'I am not going to withdraw', what are you going to do?"

On another matter, Rais praised the unanimity of the Cheras division in its no-contest ruling, saying that it was exemplary.

Rais said for Umno to emerge as the main entity in fighting for the Malays, the party's 165 divisions had to restructure its adminstration and activity structures in order to be more service-oriented.

Rais said the time had come for division chiefs and committee members to place service ahead of politcial activities.

"Service the community such as assisitng the less fortunate, taking part in adopting schools and other education programmes - these are the struggle that will attract the Malays back to Umno," he said.

Rais said that currently, too many party activities were concentrated on politics.


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