KUALA LUMPUR: All Malaysians must defend Malaysia as a secular country as inspired by the nation’s founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj, said a former Court of Appeal judge.
Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus (pic) said the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (RUU355) was not suitable and would not be accepted by most Malaysians.
The argument that the RUU355 will not affect non-Muslims also cannot be accepted, he said.
Hishamudin said there were common cases such as orang asli wrongly registered as Muslims, non-Muslim children being converted to Islam by one parent and corpses seized by Islamic authorities claiming that the deceased was a Muslim despite having no concrete proof.
“Recently, traders in Kelantan including non-Muslims, were ordered to close shop during Maghrib prayers.
“In such cases, the argument that Syariah law does not affect non-Muslims cannot be accepted,” said Hishamudin who retired in 2015 after 24 years of service.
He said what has been agreed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and written in the Federal Constitution must be respected and followed by all.
“Freedom to practise religion was guaranteed during the negotiations to establish Malaysia. The issue of hudud never cropped up.
“If it did then, certainly the proposal would have been overruled by the people of North Borneo and Sarawak,” he said in his speech at a Sisters in Islam forum here yesterday.
He said the amendments to Kelantan’s Syariah Criminal Code II 1993 in 2015 went against Article 8 of the Federal Constitution which upholds equality before the law.
It also contradicts Article 74 which states that only Parliament has the power to make laws regarding criminal offences, he said.
For the law to be enforceable in Kelantan, the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 has to be amended, he added.
“In my opinion, the limit of three years in jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes which are provided under Act 355 and passed in 1965 then amended in 1984, is adequate with the limited scope of Syariah offences and suitable with the secular nature of the Federal Constitution,” he said.
He said the RUU355 ignored the principle of proportional justice in criminal law.
“However, the new amendments proposed maximum of 30 years jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes are very extreme and is almost the same with the criminal jurisdiction of the Sessions Court,” he added. The debate on RUU355 has been deferred to the next sitting of Parliament in July.