PETALING JAYA: Former Umno minister Zaid Ibrahim has advised non-Muslims not to be nonchalant about proposed amendments to the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act.
In an interview with Nanyang Siang Pau, the former minister for legal affairs said that if the proposed amendments were to come into force, the country would be split as there would be two sets of laws.
This, he said would have a great impact on the lives of the people, including how they dressed and what they could do.
He cited the example of a watch shop owner in Kota Baru, Kelantan who was punished by local authorities for putting up a poster which was deemed “sexy” in July.
“The impact of hudud is wide-ranging, VCD sellers may be charged for playing rock music which could be deemed as corrupting the morals of the people and the local authorities would not issue them the necessary permits to operate,” he said.
Zaid said the country’s legal system would change drastically if the amendment was passed and enforced, especially in any state which followed in Kelantan’s footsteps.
He added that inconsistencies would arise as Muslim and non-Muslim criminals, who commit the same crimes, received different sentences.
“Not only that, the Federal Constitution would not have any meaning any more. The basis for all laws would change tremendously and the civil court would lose its prominence.”
He said the next meeting of Parliament beginning on Monday, was a huge test for the country and its people.
Zaid believed that not all MPs of Barisan Nasional supported the amendment, but some might do so for not wanting to be seen as being in the wrong.
However he also believed the proposed amendments would not get sufficient support from Muslim MPs or those from Sabah and Sarawak.
“I hope that all citizens, including the people of Sabah and Sarawak, regardless of whether they are Muslims or not, reject the proposed amendments.”
He said PAS was by no means putting on a show by pushing for the amendments. It was necessary for MCA, MIC and every citizen to openly oppose the amendments and make their stand clear.
Zaid said the Penal Code should be retained as the system for punishing criminals and stressed that the country could not have two sets of laws.
“PAS are cowards, if they are really fighting for Islam, they should look for ways to change our country’s system, Federal Constitution and Penal Code, to achieve a theocratic state. PAS claims the amendments are aimed at empowering the Syariah Courts and this is a lie.”
He said the Syariah Courts could be empowered by providing more court houses and computers and greater protection of the rights of Muslim women.
Lengthy court cases should be resolved quickly, especially when it invovled custody battles as a result of men who simply sought divorces. “Why not settle these cases quickly so that Muslim women get justice, instead of seeking more power to send people to jail, stone them or chop off their hands.”
Zaid urged the people of the country to oppose the amendments and not bow to a Taliban-like political party which is not fighting for justice and only prioritises what they feel is right.