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MPs: Social media turned Act 355 into hudud bill

 | September 5, 2016

Minister Jamil Khir Baharom reiterates that Act 355 is not a back door to hudud and is only meant to enhance punishments accorded to shariah courts.


SHAH ALAM: Barisan Nasional’s component parties are to blame for the misconception that PAS’ proposed amendments to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355, is a guise for hudud.

This was stated by PAS Secretary-General Takiyuddin Hassan at a forum centred on discussions over the proposed amendments which seek to strengthen the shariah courts.

“The MCA president, Gerakan and MIC, in their statements in response to the proposal brought by Marang MP (PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang), did not refer to it as Act 355, but as the Hudud Bill instead.

“To say the amendments are meant for hudud is not right as hudud does not need to be taken to Parliament.

“It’s a state matter,” he said at a forum held at Media Karangkraf Complex here today.

Besides Takiyuddin, the forum also featured Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom, DAP’s Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw, and MCA Shariah Law and Policy Implementation Special Task Force Chairman Gan Ping Sieu.

Jamil, a minister in charge of Islamic affairs, agreed and said the amendments will not include new offences.

It will only empower the shariah courts, allowing them to impose stiffer punishments for offences already listed in the current Act.

“The current law allows shariah courts to mete out prison sentences of a maximum of three years, a RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the cane.

“But there is a need to change the law, especially as the last amendment was made in 1984.

“I would like to stress, however, that the amendments will not seek to include any new offences.

“Again, this is not a back door to hudud and Act 355 has nothing to do with hudud.”

Dr Tan, on the other hand, blamed social media for presenting Act 355 as a gateway to hudud.

He said even before the private member’s bill was taken to Parliament, word spread on social media claimed the amendments were going to lay the foundation for hudud to be implemented in Malaysia.

The fact that a lot of politicians have used religion as a way to tie Malaysian Muslims’ hands and force them into accepting the proposal, had rightfully scared the non-Muslims, making them more hesitant to accept it, he added.

“This is a multiracial country. Whatever happens in one corner affects us all. You can’t simply say that the law is meant for Muslims, and so it wouldn’t affect the non-Muslims.

“You must understand that with social media, everything has changed.

“This topic (shariah law) is a sensitive matter to the non-Muslims, especially when the proposal was made by PAS, as Kelantan and Terengganu already have hudud enactments in place.”

Gan concurred and said one of the reasons MCA objected to the amendments was because it is cautious as to the possible interference with the rights of non-Muslims.

The concern heightened after he had a look at the leaked Department of Islamic Development Malaysia’s (Jakim) internal report by its Shariah Technical Committee.

The report allegedly stated that there are two phases to the implementation of hudud. The first is to amend Act 355, said Gan.

“How can we not be concerned by this?

“(At the same time) we were also disappointed by the sudden tabling of the amendments in Parliament, done without consulting the other (BN) component parties first.”

The proposal was initially thought to never see the light of day in Parliament.

However, in the last parliamentary sitting in May, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said moved a motion to prioritise the bill over other government matters.

Discussion on the bill will take place in Parliament this coming October.


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