Some 100 people comprising critics and supporters of proposed amendments to Act 355 today gathered for a forum organised by Angkatan Amanah Merdeka, an NGO founded by veteran politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
The Gua Musang MP said that the forum, held at the Universiti Malaya Alumni Clubhouse - titled "How Much Do You Know About Hudud" - was organised to gather their views on the Islamic law.
The three-hour forum featured Perlis mufti Dr Asri Zainul Abidin, UiTM law adviser Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi and USM's political scientist Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid.
Those present included Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali, Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali, G25 founder Noor Farida Ariffin, lawyer and activist Siti Kasim, Hulu Kelang assemblyperson Saari Sungib as well as activist Azrul Mohd Khalib.
Tengku Razaleigh further said the forum, held one week before the PAS-led rally to drum up support for its proposed amendments to Act 355, was also timely to address fears and concerns which had been raised over the matter.
"It is hoped that this forum will be able to refine the various views on hudud which have been raised by various parties and individuals," said Tengku Razaleigh in his opening speech.
Some of the questions which could be addressed, he said, included the constitutionality of the proposed amendments; the legal implications of possible dual punishment for the same offence; as well as its relevance in the current socio-economic times.
"This forum could be the platform for the meeting of minds on the various viewpoints of this much debated issue.
"At the same time, the forum provides a dignified channel for relevant parties to engage the public in a transparent manner, in trying to explain the underlying rationale regarding the proposed amendments," he explained.
It was earlier noted that the forum is a non-partisan initiative to discuss the hudud issue, ahead of the upcoming PAS-led rally as well as the Bill's expected tabling in Parliament at the upcoming session next March.
The Act 355 rally seeks to support the amendment - first tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang - to allow the syariah court to mete out tougher punishments by increasing the punishment limit from three years' imprisonment, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the rotan to 30 years' imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the rotan.- Mkini