Respect rights of Muslims, MCA told

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PETALING JAYA: The PAS Supporters Congress, its non-Muslim wing, has asked MCA to respect the rights of Muslims.

Dr Balachandran G Krishnan, the wing’s head of information, said the party was carrying out its moral and religious obligations, as an Islamic party, in tabling a private member’s bill for imposing Islamic criminal penalties.

The bill, proposed by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, will come up for debate in the Dewan Rakyat in October.

Balachandran said the tabling of the bill did not mean that the bill would be passed: it must go through parliamentary procedures.

Responding to remarks by MCA religious harmony bureau chairman Ti Lian Ker, he pointed out that religious harmony could only be achieved through respect for the belief and obligation of other religions.

“This in turn would allow us to be respected by others,” he said in a statement today.

He said the amendments proposed in Hadi’s bill, were to increase the penalties that may be imposed by the shariah courts, and not meant to widen the jurisdiction of the courts.

He said the highest shariah courts had less power than the civil magistrate courts, the lowest in the civil court structure.

“Our constitution has very clearly defined that the official religion of our country is Islam and the shariah law is embedded in Islam. We have to respect that,” he said.

He said the constitution provided the shariah courts, which are courts under state law, to have jurisdiction over Muslims. “They shall have no jurisdiction over people professing any other religions. How the amendments will affect all Malaysians is something that we have to wait and see.”

He said many Malaysians tended to “jump the gun”, thus creating unpleasantness among Malaysians.