A Christian’s appeal to Amanah

KJ-John-amanahBy KJ John

As a Christian, I wish to congratulate and support the alternative proposal being supported by Parti Amanah Negara MPs to amend the Shariah Courts Criminal Jurisdiction (Act 355), against that which was suggested by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang, who is also Marang MP.

I would like to support this alternative initiative but want to also meet up with the Amanah MPs for a closed door discussion, which should include some Christian leaders. It is imperative that a mere private member’s “not well thought through” bill cannot be mistakenly tabled and blindly voted upon.

Many times before, many MPs have blindly followed their party whip and voted, but too often this has violated Constitutional provisions and often times, it has created problems between state enactment and fundamental rights of all citizens.

The has led to the number of cases in court that are so confusing that our IGP is unable to execute criminal laws of Malaysia.

I have at least eight concerns about the amendments to Act 355 as it stands:

– It is an amendment to change criminal punishment limits as currently allowable under Shariah state-level enactments from the 3-5-6 as classified now. Why is this bill not tabled by the Attorney-General, after formal tabling to the Rulers? Does Sabah and Sarawak have much to say about this criminal punishment intent;

– While it does not include the death sentence, it is obvious that it is silent on chopping off of limbs and other such inhumane actions in terms of public and civil spaces;

– Shariah courts were created to support state-level Shariah punishments but they are a subsidiary court system only equivalent to session courts; any changes to their limits also opens up a Pandora’s box over other limits;

– There is consequently a lack of standardisation of punishments for Federation citizens within nine subsidiary codes of misconduct;

– Consequential poor administration of criminal justice will destroy our current civil law jurisprudence and current system of civil and criminal justice;

– The original intent of Shariah at state-level enactments was for family and personal matters but any move to include federal criminal law increments messes up and raises questions about who then is the real enforcement authority. Criminal enforcement then becomes confusing;

– Currently, even family and personal Shariah execution is less than wholesome and the Shariah system should instead focus on enhancing its performance but not increasing its jurisdiction; and

– Shariah being made a federal criminal law enactment is creeping Islamisation by way of the backdoor and all Malaysians must equally object to its tabling.

My policy view

There is only one way for PAS or Ustaz Hadi to change the current criminal laws and issues of their execution intent.

Administration of Justice today is a Federal legal matter of jurisprudence. If PAS is serious about changing this; they have to be fair to all citizens and do it through a two-thirds amendment in Parliament.

There is no other way of doing this because it involves all public spaces and not just Muslim private space under state-enactment jurisdiction of personal Islamic faith.

KJ John was director of Industrial Policy with MITI until 1996 before he moved to the NITC at Mimos Berhad to develop the National IT Agenda.

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