PETALING JAYA: A G25 member has advised Muslims who disagree with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill to not be afraid to speak up.
Following a statement made by 20 East Malaysians on why the bill should be rejected, G25 member Johan Arriffin A Samad – who is also one of the spokespersons for the group of East Malaysians – said Muslims had no reason to fear PAS.
“People always misunderstand and think PAS is a religious party or get confused and think they are religious scholars.
“They forget that PAS is a political party made up of a bunch of politicians. Just like Umno and other political parties, they are only fishing for votes,” he told FMT.
He said one of the reasons some Muslims were afraid to speak up was because they were afraid of being called anti-Islam or kafir (infidels).
“I think we need to stop labelling people who disagree with us as kafir, the way that PAS likes to do. People have their own opinions and we have to respect them.
“The thing is that people don’t want to live in a Taliban state where everything is so restrictive.”
Johan, who is also a former deputy director of Yayasan Sabah, said Islam was about more than just punishments.
“Fear and threats are not a good thing for Islam. We should follow the true Islam, which is more compassionate.
“Helping people and doing good deeds are also important (in Islam). It’s not just about punishments.”
The group of 22 comprise Sabahans and Sarawakians who are former and current politicians, from both sides of the political divide, former top civil servants, professionals and businessmen.
They say the bill should be rejected as Malaysia is a secular federation with the rule of law grounded on common law heritage.
“Lest we forget, religious freedom was stressed and assured in the merger negotiations of Malaysia. Hudud punishments were never placed on the agenda.
“Had hudud punishments been on the cards, the Malaysia project would have likely been rejected by the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak.
“The spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the Federal Constitution – the two statutes that constitute the social contract of our nation’s founding – must be respected and upheld,” the statement read.
It further reads that secularism means the legal system must be predominantly based on general laws applied to all citizens while religious or customary laws may be used for personal and family matters for members of specific communities.
“The Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution provides that criminal justice shall be administered by the civil courts while allowing the states to ‘(create and punish) offences by persons professing the religion of Islam against the precepts of that religion, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List’.
The 3-5-6 cap provided by Act 355 – enacted in 1965 and amended in 1984 – is commensurate with the limited scope of shariah offences and therefore, befitting the secular design of our Federal Constitution.
“The new limits proposed by Hadi Awang’s Bill – 30 years imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the whip (the 30-100-100 cap) – is almost approaching the criminal jurisdiction of the Sessions Court, all punishments permitted by law, except the death penalty.
“When a severe crime like robbery can only be punished by the Sessions Court with a maximum term of 14 years and fine or whipping, what religious offences committed by Muslims should be slapped with 30 years’ imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the whip?
“Where is the principle of proportionality so central to criminal justice?”
It also states that it is a “blatant lie” to claim that the bill has nothing to do with introduction of hudud punishments.
“If passed in its current form, the bill will immediately enable three hudud punishments in the shariah criminal laws in Kelantan and Terengganu – 100 strokes for fornication, 80 strokes for unsubstantiated accusation of adultery or sodomy (qazaf) and 40-80 strokes for consumption of alcohol.
“Together with the disproportionality of offences and punishments, the introduction of these three hudud punishments will qualitatively alter the secular nature of the legal system.
“It is not only unconstitutional, but also erodes the moral foundation of Malaysia as a secular federation.”
The statement was written in four languages: Malay, English, Kadazandusun and Iban.
Apart from Johan, former Suhakam vice-chairperson Simon Sipaun, former Sabah Umno Youth chief Jema Khan, and Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian were also signatories of the statement, among others.