Aidil Khalid says proposed shariah amendments necessary as Muslims want to enforce principles of morality according to Islam without enforcing them on non-Muslims
PETALING JAYA: A speaker at a debate on the proposed shariah amendments has claimed that the Penal Code has elements of Christianity but Muslims in Malaysia had not complained about the issue.
Lawyer Aidil Khalid said through the move to amend the law to enhance punishment according to Islamic principles Muslims would get to enforce principles of morality according to their religion.
He said this at a debate organised by secular group Bebas and held at the PJ Live Arts last night.
“The Muslims in this country have been subjected to civil laws,” he said during a debate on the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) amendments, adding that he had not complained about it, particularly provisions contained in the Penal Code.
“These are laws imported from India which were taken from the British legal system. Some are based on the principle of morality and under the Christian principle.
“The Muslims never complained (about civil laws),” he said, adding that while the Federal Constitution was imposed on all Malaysians, the Shariah laws were only for Muslims.
“And we don’t even want to impose it on the non-Muslims,” he said, lamenting that there was opposition to the move although it would only affect Muslims.
He said there should not be any fear mongering as it would not be the first time the act was being amended.
He noted that the act was amended in 1984 after having been established in peninsular Malaysia in 1965. It was further applied to Sabah and Sarawak in 1989.
“There was no big fuss. What we are asking now is simply for further improvement, he said.
Another speaker, Lukman Sheriff, said the amendment was allowed by the Federal Constitution to allow Shariah courts to be run at the state-level.
“The amendments are done in the Dewan Rakyat. And the laws are only for Muslims. How many non-Muslims are caught for not fasting during Ramadan? How many non-Muslims are convicted for not going for Friday prayers?”
“It will not be applied on non-Muslims because of the constitutional safeguard (on them).”
Activist Haris Ibrahim said he opposed the amendment as it was causing Malaysia to move away from being a secular state.
He gave the example of three offences in the Shariah Criminal Offences Federal Territories Act 1997 which he said were not according to the precepts of Islam.
He said the offence under Section 12 states that any person who propagates or disseminates any opinion concerning Islamic teachings, Islamic laws or concerning any fatwa, shall be guilty.
Stressing that he had read the works of 8th century Islamic jurist Iman Al Shafie, he said: “In those days there were arguments and counter-arguments going back and forth, there were differing opinions. But what this law (FT law) says is if anyone holds an opinion contrary to fatwa, you as Muslim are not allowed to have your own opinion. In short, it says don’t think.”
Haris said other such offences were on not performing Friday prayers in a mosque for three consecutive weeks and not eating or drinking in public during the fasting month despite being unwell.
Haris said Sabahan Christians were being deprived of using the word Allah during baptism which was part of their culture for centuries.
“It is part of expanding the powers of shariah courts. And if this continues it will impact the non-Muslims. Please wake up. It is happening.”
Aidil retorted by questioning Haris’ expertise in Arabic. “Any Tom, Dick and Harry cannot be defining Islamic jurisprudence,” he said.
Lukman added that the majority of Muslims did not share Haris’ view and such a clash of opinions was not healthy.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has, through a private member’s bill tabled last year, sought to amend Act 355, allowing for stiffer punishments for shariah offenders, The increased sentences proposed include a maximum punishment of up to 30 years’ jail, 100 lashes of the cane and a RM100,000 fine.