Cover image via FMT

THE majority of the Malaysians have put much attention to Pas president’s private member’s Bill over the past few weeks.

Tabled by Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in May, the Bill seeks to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, which is also known as Act 355.

It seeks to empower the Syariah courts, and this include permitting the courts to mete out punishments permissible under syariah laws, except for death penalty.

It does not go down well with many, as they fear that it could set a precedence for the implementation of syariah criminal laws or Hudud.

For them, it’ll leads to limbs amputations, stoning, and other punishments, which are being harped on as “absolutely brute and inhuman.”

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But, wait. Which part of the Bill spells out “stoning” and “cutting off hands”?

Contrary to what many have presumed, it only seeks to increase the amount of penalties of syariah laws.

The current limits for syariah punishments are a fine of RM5 000, jail of three years and six strokes of the cane.

The Bill would specify an increase in the maximum sentences to 30 years jail, fines of up to RM100,000 and no more than 100 strokes of caning.

This is because for Pas leaders, the current penalties are inadequate and shows how little power the syariah courts have.

The amendment does not propose any crimes that come under the civil courts jurisdiction to be punished under syariah courts.

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It deals with cases related to marriage, division of properties to children, abuses to the pillars of Islam, and others.

Unfortunately, some quarters have continue to spur misunderstanding of the Bill.

They dubbed it as Hudud Bill and harp on the idea that Malaysia is becoming an ultra-Islamic, uncompromising state.

Some even say that it is a form of betrayal to the Muslims and the country, while they continue to cause confusion among the non-Muslims.

The way I see it, all they do is fearmongering, up to a point that Muslims and Islam are being painted with a rather ugly image.

If this scaremongering and deception continue, it could further cause division in the society.

I am sure a lot of us wouldn’t want Malaysians to be divided out of misinterpretation. Hence, the non-Muslims should be made clear that syariah jurisdiction does not encroach into other religions and would never affect them.

Image via FMT
Image via FMT

As a Muslim, I also believe that it’s good for us to want to expand the power of syariah courts. Its power should be enhanced to serve as a moral guide and a stern warning to the Muslim community, from committing greater crimes that are covered by the syariah courts.

With this, uproar surrounding the Bill must be relieved. Some would view it as merely a political move by Pas, but, none of us should see it as a sign of oppression and separation.
We should just open our hearts and minds and try to understand the proposed amendment, not take it out of proportion.

Balqis Rayhana is an independent analyst and Malaysian Access reader. Article written is strictly her personal view. Malaysian Access does not necessarily endorse the opinions given by any third party content provider.

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