KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 — A secular activist group has submitted a petition to all MPs today to reject a private member’s Bill to enhance the Shariah courts, should it be tabled in the coming Dewan Rakyat sitting.
The group calling itself BEBAS listed three reasons as to why the Bill should be opposed, which among others claimed that the law would exacerbate the unequal treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims; invalid concrete evidence to prove that the proposed law would be effective; and the possible abuse of the law if it was passed.
“Those who support the proposed amendment to Act 355 seem to refuse to acknowledge the grave weaknesses in the protection of the accused under the current system. Any move to enhance Shariah punishments will only make things worse.
“If you stay silent or if you support the proposed amendment to Act 355, it means that you’re allowing injustices in your own community,” the group said in a statement.
Act 355 refers to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 that PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang aims to amend with his private member’s Bill.
The Bill aims to raise the ceiling on Shariah punishments from three years’ imprisonment, six strokes of the cane and an RM5,000 fine to 30 years’ imprisonment, 100 strokes, and an RM100,000 fine.
PAS and other Islamist groups will be holding a gathering this Saturday called Himpunan 355 at Padang Merbok between 3pm and 11pm, in support of Hadi and the Bill.
On the same day, BEBAS will hold a counter-rally against Himpunan 355 at Taman Jaya park in Petaling Jaya.