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Kelantan State Legislative Assembly amended Syariah Bill

The recent Kelantan State Legislative Assembly passing of an amended Syariah Bill that provides for public caning for offenders have receive much criticism from several quarters.

These amendments also empower religious enforcement officers to handcuff suspects, allow video clips to be used as evidence in trials and make community service a form of punishment.

From a Sarawak context, SUPP views this new development with utmost concern, in view of the possibility that the Bill is part of the procedure to implement the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or RUU 355.

Secretary General Dato Sebastian Ting is of a strong opinion that any development of Hudud or extreme syariah law is going to be most unsuitable to the present racial and religious harmony Sarawak has enjoyed all these time.

The late Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem was very clear and firm that there shall not be Hudud law in Sarawak. This legacy is also evident to the present CM YAB Datuk Amar Abang Zohari, who have affirmed the same thing.

It would appear that Sarawak is not alone in disagreeing with this new development.

Various reactions have been noted following the announcement by the state government, most negative and unsupportive in nature.

MCA has criticised PAS for passing such laws, accusing the party of trying to gain political mileage in the run-up to the next general election by trying to appease the Muslim electorate.

Gerakan also agreed that the move to mete out punishment in public is contrary to Federal law. The party advised PAS to look at the Prisons Act, particularly Clause 132, which states that such punishment is to be carried out in the confines of the prison grounds.

Similar negative view is reflected by the DAP’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who commented that the move by PAS was a “desperate bid to win votes” in Kelantan, so they are desperate to show off their so-called Islamic image.

Other views culled also reflected similar negative comments, pointing out that the state government’s move has been described by many as unconstitutional and showing an obsession with punishment.

Yayasan 1Malaysia chairman Dr Chandra Muzaffar said the amendments reflected PAS’ mentality, which focused on punishment rather than the reform that is central to Islamic jurisprudence and not conducive for a multi-religious society such as Malaysia’s.

Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin of G25, the group of eminent Malays, said the move by PAS would only tarnish the image of Islam.  She noted that the amendments to allow public caning would give the wrong impression of Islam to non-Muslims and does not reflect the concept of mercy, compassion, justice and kindness that are prominent in Islamic teachings.


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